Forth Bridge workers memorials unveiled

Image caption,
The first minister paid tribute to the men died building, restoring and maintaining the bridge

Memorials to workers who died building the world famous Forth Bridge have been unveiled.

The event marked the end of a 10 year restoration project on the rail crossing over the Firth of Forth.

Thousands of "Briggers" have worked building, maintaining and restoring the bridge over its 129 year history.

Twin monuments to 73 men who died in the process were unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond at sites in both North and South Queensferry.

The stone base of the 7ft bronze monuments is engraved with the words: "To the Briggers, past and present, who built, restored and continue to maintain this iconic structure."

Local historians

Mr Salmond said: "The Forth Bridge is perhaps the single most inspirational structure ever to have been built in Scotland.

"Above all, we honour the sacrifice of those who lost their lives during the bridge's construction.

"They helped make possible what remains perhaps Scotland's greatest-ever engineering achievement and these memorials are worthy tributes to their skill and courage."

David Simpson, route managing director from Network Rail Scotland, paid tribute to the "hard graft and sacrifice" made by all those who have worked on the bridge.

He added: "It made perfect sense to us to celebrate our modern day achievement by supporting this community driven memorial which will stand side-by-side with the bridge for many years to come."

Image caption,
Network Rail has created a series of 360 degree views of the bridge

The memorial plan was devised by a team of local historians and enthusiasts who have researched the project and raised funds over the past seven years.

Network Rail and contractor Balfour Beatty became principal sponsors and the monuments were designed by local artist Gordon Muir.

Len Saunders, from the Forth Bridge memorial committee, said: "We are immensely pleased that Network Rail and Balfour Beatty have chosen to celebrate the completion of the decade long bridge restoration in such a fitting way.

"And that the support, together with our many other sponsors has resulted in a fine public memorial to 'The Briggers'."

The event comes as a decision on whether the bridge will be proposed for Unesco world heritage status is due this summer.

Network Rail is examining the idea of building a viewing platform for visitors to be hoisted more than 300ft to the top of the bridge and the operator has also created a set of 360 degree views taken from around the structure .