Forth Bridge in UK's latest World Heritage bid

Public interest in the Forth rail and road bridges is paving the way to being new business as tourist attractions

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The Forth Bridge has become the UK government's latest nomination for World Heritage site status.

The railway bridge, which connects Edinburgh with Fife, will be evaluated by Unesco over an 18-month period, with a decision due in 2015.

If successful the site would join the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and the Grand Canyon on the existing list of Unesco sites.

The UK currently has 28 World Heritage sites, five of which are in Scotland.

Among the UK sites are: Stonehenge, The Tower of London, the Jurassic Coast, and the Antonine Wall.

UK government Culture Secretary Maria Miller said securing the status would help the bridge attract tourists from all over the world.

"If the Forth Bridge bid is successful in achieving such prestigious international recognition, then Britain will have yet another iconic place by which to attract tourists to our shores," she said.

It is estimated that heritage-based tourism contributes about £26.4bn and more than 700,000 jobs to the UK economy.

'Engineering excellence'

The Forth Bridge is more than a mile and a half long, and was the first major British construction to be made of steel.

At its peak, more than 4,500 workers were employed in the construction of the bridge.

World Heritage sites in Scotland

  • St. Kilda - a small, out-lying archipelago of Hebridean islands
  • Edinburgh Old and New Towns
  • The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which includes Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, the Standing Stones of Stenness and other nearby sites
  • New Lanark - a restored 18th Century industrial cotton mill village in South Lanarkshire
  • The Antonine Wall - a stone and turf fortification built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland

Scottish government Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop: "The Forth Bridge is an iconic symbol of technical creativity and engineering excellence.

"As one of the world's most recognisable landmarks the bridge not only connects communities in a practical sense, but also connects those who admire its design with Scotland's proud industrial and cultural heritage.

"The Scottish government is proud to support the Forth Bridge bid.

"I am particularly pleased that the partnership approach that has led to this point has allowed the communities in which the bridge is based to have a direct input alongside local and national bodies."

Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael said also praised the team behind the bid.

He added: "The Forth Bridge is an excellent example of the UK's rich culture and heritage and proudly symbolises Scotland's place in the world as pioneers of construction.

"Inscription as a World Heritage site is an important accolade.

"Achieving this recognition will be tremendous news for Scotland and a fitting tribute to all of the people who have contributed to the building, maintenance and restoration of the bridge in its 124-year history."

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