Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

September – 2023 (Vol. 47, Number 03)

Gracing our front cover: The 2023 World Pipe Band Championships. Image courtesy of Alan Harvey/ SNS Group and Glasgow Life.

The Banner Says…

Scotland’s connection to bridges

Looking at some of the dates in this edition’s This Month in Scottish History page, I could not help but notice some of Scotland’s premier bridges get a mention. We all know why bridges are built, to help link two places and very much serve a function.

A bridge is a key part of any nations infrastructure and assist in linking communities, improving travel times and building business. However, bridges are so much more than just being functional. A bridge can have a strong historical or cultural importance and become part of the scenic landscape of a place. Scotland has bridges of all shapes, sizes, ages and lengths found across the country.

The Forth Bridges

Perhaps Scotland’s most famous and iconic bridge would have to be the incredible Forth (Rail) Bridge. The oldest of Scotland’s Forth Bridges this incredible bridge opened in March 1890 and was at the time the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world. I have travelled across this marvel of Scottish engineering several times and have been fortunate to get some great aerial views on flights out of Edinburgh. The Forth Bridge took seven years to build and is made with red steel and around six million rivets. The bridge spans 8,094 feet or 2.5kms and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2015. This bridge, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, must be my favourite bridges in the world that I can look at and never tire of seeing.

Today the Forth Bridge is kept in good company as it shares the Firth of Forth estuary with both the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing. The Forth Road Bridge opened 59 years ago this month, in 1964, and the bridge’s two main towers include a fitting St Andrew’s Cross design. This bridge was born due to an influx of cars on Scottish roads to link the Edinburgh region to the north of Scotland. The Forth Road Bridge is now only used by pedestrians, cyclists, emergency services and public transport.

Six years ago, this month, The Queen opened the latest and longest transport addition to the Forth bridges, The Queensferry Crossing. This bridge was planned for today’s volume of cars and replaced the Forth Road Bridge as the main road route between Edinburgh and Fife and can carry 24 million vehicles a year.

One bridge I have walked and driven across numerous times is Glasgow’s Clyde Arc, or as
affectionately known locally as the ‘Squinty Bridge’, which opened this month in 2006. This bridge spans the River Clyde connecting Finnieston in Glasgow’s West End with Pacific Quay and Govan on the south side of the city. The bridge looks fantastic day and night as it reflects the Clyde and compliments the many modern iconic buildings you now find in this part of Glasgow such as the Scottish Exhibitions Centre, The Hydro and the Glasgow Science Centre, whom all sit amongst one of my favourite Glasgow icons the Finnieston Crane.

In this issue

So much of the pipe band world recently descended on the streets of Glasgow for this year’s World Pipe Band Championships, and PipingLive! The dedication of these performers to not only consistently practice to such a high level but also represent their country on the world stage is something to admire. For many bands this also included a hefty flight and travel costs. We are delighted to feature a highlight of the World’s in this issue.

Think of wildlife in the Scottish Highlands and you may perhaps think of Highland coo’s, deer, birdlife or even an illustrious monster! However, at the Highland Wildlife Park you can also ge up close and personal with various native animals like the Scottish wildcat, as well as species from across the globe such as snow leopards, Amur tigers, Japanese macaques and Scotland’s only polar bears (which includes one baby). All amongst the incredibly stunning scenery of Cairngorm National Park, the UK’s largest National Park.

It was over 150 years ago the third Duke of Sutherland, who was a railway enthusiast, brought a railway to Brora in Sutherland. The Duke also built his very own railway station at Dunrobin Castle, near the village of Golspie. Dunrobin station remains in the ownership of the Sutherland Estate and is believed to be the only such station on the UK rail network to have been planned, paid for and opened by just one person.

Connects us all when in Scotland

Scotland of course has far too many bridges to mention in this article. From the very famous and picturesque Glenfinnan Viaduct where the Jacobite steam train runs from Glenfinnan to Fort William and Mallaig, and made famous by the Harry Potter franchise. To the controversial Skye Bridge, which links the Scottish mainland with the stunning Isle of Skye. This bridge which was once considered the most expensive road toll in Europe is now free for all to enjoy a drive ‘over the sea to Skye’. Right down to the small, but so photographed, Swilcan Bridge found on the 18th hole at the Home of Golf, St Andrews.

Perhaps you have a bridge that means something to you, a bridge whose engineering marvels you, or has simply helped you get around Scotland a little easier? We would love to hear readers comments on their favourite bridges that quite literally connects us all when in Scotland.

Do you have a favourite Scottish bridge?  Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

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