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Published on : Saturday, April 2, 2016
VisitScotland and Network Rail have today launched a global hunt to uncover the origins of mysterious, 71-year-old plans to reconstruct the iconic Forth Bridge.Blueprints unearthed by engineers working on designs for a new visitor facility show a three-arch structure, similar to that of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, dating back to 1945.
One theory is that the design for the bridge was a contingency measure, should the world-famous Victorian structure have fallen victim to a V2 rocket attack during the Second World War.Network Rail, which owns the World Heritage Site, and national tourism organisation VisitScotland are now trying to track down anyone who knows who drew up the plans… and why.
The two engineers’ drawings were found in a microfiche file among a box of historic documents and show a new bridge alignment and a ‘reconstructed’ bridge profile. The annotated plans are dated 22 January 1945 and are attributed to the ‘Engineers Department Edinburgh’.Sited just to the east of the existing bridge, the alternative alignment would have seen the railway deviate through some historic parts of Dalmeny and North Queensferry.
The ambitious design – the equivalent of building three Sydney Harbour Bridges back to back – shows arches standing at 110 metres high, the height of the existing structure. The track would have been the same height, but the four masonry towers would have stood at a colossal 70 metres.
Ian Heigh, a senior project manager for Network Rail developing the visitor centre proposals, said: “It’s amazing that a 126-year-old structure like the Forth Bridge can still offer us new mysteries. These plans date from early 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, so we think they may have been drawn up as a contingency plan in the event of a V2 rocket strike.