Flypast celebrates Forth Bridge’s 125th birthday

A flypast by a replica Spitfire marks the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge. Picture: PA

A flypast by a replica Spitfire marks the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge. Picture: PA

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A SPITFIRE and RAF Typhoon flew over the Forth Bridge to celebrate the iconic rail crossing’s 125th birthday today.

The veteran fighter marked the Luftwaffe’s first attack on Britain in the Second World War, which featured a dogfight over the bridge in October 1939.

A replica Spitfire flies past the Forth Rail Bridge. Picture: Hemedia

A replica Spitfire flies past the Forth Rail Bridge. Picture: Hemedia

Network Rail hopes the bridge will be awarded World Heritage Site status by the United Nations this summer.

It is also considering a major spectacular for the anniversary to be held in September as part of the second Forth Bridges Festival.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown joined pupils from James Gillespie’s Primary School in Edinburgh for today’s flypast, which was specially timed for 1:25pm.

They heard the then-schoolboy Ed Thomson recall the 1939 raid on nearby Rosyth Naval Base, which was also the Spitfire’s first combat with the enemy.

A replica Spitfire flies past the Forth Rail Bridge. Picture: Hemedia

A replica Spitfire flies past the Forth Rail Bridge. Picture: Hemedia

Mr Thomson was aboard a train which had stalled on the bridge.

The Spitfire is owned by Perth-based pilot Iain Hutchison, while the Typhoon fast jet is based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

Mr Brown said of the bridge: “It is a true icon of Scotland, recognised the world over.

“It represents a revolutionary feat of Victorian engineering, and its unmistakable red girders have been synonymous with Scotland and part of our collective imagination for 125 years.”

A close-up of the replica Spitfire. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

A close-up of the replica Spitfire. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The minister described the 1939 raid as “a hugely historic day in the life of the country, which is perhaps still not as widely known about as it should be”.

He said: “There may not be another day quite as dramatic in the life of the Forth Bridge, but we can be sure it will remain a hardworking and majestic icon of Scotland for another 125 years and beyond.”

An exhibition about the raid is on display at Queensferry Museum in South Queensferry.

Network Rail Scotland route managing director David Dickson said it had raised £160,000 for “good causes” from more than 500 people visiting the bridge this year, including being taken by workers’ lift to the top of the north tower.

He said: “We look forward to encouraging further community events and activities during the course of this anniversary year.”

The rail firm plans to open a visitor centre ­connected to a bridge-top viewing platform by “panoramic” lifts in 2017.

The £15 million “Forth Bridge ­Experience” would also include a Sydney Harbour Bridge-style climb at the southern end of the structure.

Groups of up to 15 people would be led along walkways and catwalks to the top of the south tower.

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