The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is launching on 9
October an exhibition of photographs of the Forth Rail Bridge,
often described as one of the wonders of the industrial world.
It will provide an interesting insight into this iconic structure,
with contemporary artwork juxtaposed with historical images.
A dramatic photomontage of the Forth Rail Bridge structure,
by renowned German artist, Dieter Appelt, will be the centrepiece
of the exhibition. The piece, 'Forth Bridge- Cinema.
Metric Space' (2002) consists of 312 separate gelatine
silver prints crafted together. It was purchased with money
from the National Galleries of Scotland - of which the
Portrait Gallery is part - and The Art Fund and will remain
in Edinburgh permanently.
For the exhibition, National Archives of Scotland (NAS) has contributed
copies of 40 photographs from its holdings of an original collection
of photographs taken by Evelyn Carey (1858-1932). Carey was the
official photographer and assistant engineer on the Forth Rail Bridge.
The collection of over 400 photographs gives a unique account of
progress on the Forth Rail Bridge, from the building of parts on
drill roads to almost completed spans of the bridge.
The human cantilever
Demonstration of the Forth Bridge's construction, photographed
by Evelyn Carey (NAS ref: BR/FOR/4/34/161), courtesy of British
Rail Board (Residuary) Ltd
The bridge was designed by engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin
Baker. Work commenced in 1883 on the massive steel structure which
would become one of the greatest accomplishments in engineering.
HRH Edward, Prince of Wales performed the opening ceremony on completion
in 1890. It has recently been calculated that 63 lives were lost
during construction on the bridge, perhaps a surprisingly small
number considering the work involved, massive heights and time spent
by construction workers below sea level. The huge scale of the structure,
the work and the risks involved are well documented in Carey's
The exhibition runs from 9 October 2007 until 6 January 2008 at
the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street. For further
information and travel details see the National Galleries of Scotland
View of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction, from the north
Photograph by Evelyn Carey, in the records of the British Railways
(NAS reference: BR/FOR/4/34/223), courtesy of British Rail Board
Copies of the collection of Evelyn Carey's photographs
are available for public viewing in the search room of NAS's
West Register House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
If you would like to find out more about the construction,
maintenance and administration of the Rail Bridge, NAS holds a collection
of the British Railway Board's records on the Forth Bridge
Railway, 1873-1948 (NAS ref BR/FOR) which includes minutes of meetings,
engineers' reports etc and Carey's photographs (NAS ref
BR/FOR/4/34). Two volumes of prints of some of Carey's photographs
1883-1889 are also available (NAS ref BR/LIB/S/9/49-50). Digital
images of a collection of photographs and drawings of the Forth
Rail Bridge works, 1884-1885 (GD1/1346) may be viewed in the NAS
Search Rooms on the 'Virtual Volumes' system. Parliamentary bills
and evidence can be a useful source of information as they often
contain very detailed engineering information (several concerning
the Forth Rail Bridge can be found under NAS ref BR/PYB/S/1).