Forth Bridge awarded World Heritage Site status
The decision came during a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Bonn. The bid to have the bridge recognised was put forward by the UK government following a joint project with the Scottish Government, partnering with Network Rail, Transport Scotland and Historic Scotland.
The World Heritage Committee praised the bridge as “a masterpiece of creative genius because of its distinctive industrial aesthetic” and “an extraordinary and impressive milestone in the evolution of bridge design and construction”.
Designed by Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker, it measures 2,529m (1.5 miles), weighs 53,000 tonnes and was at the time the world’s longest multi-span cantilever bridge.
When it was constructed it was one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted, and at its peak, more than 4,500 men were employed building it.
Over 100 years on, the bridge remains an important part of Britain’s rail infrastructure carrying thousands of passengers each day.
The Unesco inspection report stated: “This enormous structure, with its distinctive industrial aesthetic and striking red colour, was conceived and built using advanced civil engineering design principles and construction methods.
“Innovative in design, materials and scale, the Forth Bridge is an extraordinary and impressive milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.”
UK heritage minister, Tracey Crouch, said: “It’s fantastic news that the UK’s nomination has led to the inscription of the Forth Bridge. Recognition as a World Heritage Site will draw more tourists to the area as well as making sure one of the UK’s great engineering feats stands for future generations.
“The Forth Bridge is an important part of Britain’s shared national heritage, which is why the UK government put it forward as our nomination for World Heritage Site status last year.”
The secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell, said: “The Forth Bridge is an iconic piece of Victorian industrial engineering which has a proud place in the UK’s rich culture and heritage. Being recognised as a World Heritage site is a fitting accolade for this bridge which has played such an important part in the lives of Scots for 125 years.
“The Forth Bridge joins an impressive list – including the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China plus, closer to home, New Lanark and St Kilda – which have secured the prestigious World Heritage status. I’m pleased that the UK delegation has been able to secure this status for the Forth Bridge.”
The Forth Bridge will be one of a select group of 29 locations that have been awarded World Heritage Site Status in the UK. These include the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, the Derwent Valley Mills and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.
The UK government is an active supporter of the international protection of important heritage sites, recently announcing the creation of a cultural protection fund and its intention to ratify the Hague Convention.