Battle of the bridges: But which Forth bridge is best?

It's a question that residents in North Queensferry enjoy debating on social media or in the pub. Of the three Forth bridges that dominate the local landscape, which is the best?

The three Forth bridges at sunset. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA
The three Forth bridges at sunset. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA

The latest addition, the Queensferry Crossing, officially opened for business last year. It joined the 1964 Forth Road bridge and the more famous 1890 cantilever masterpiece, known simply as the Forth Bridge, which carries the east coast mainline over the water.

For Ewan Rusack, the answer is simple. Despite being brought up in the shadow of the older suspension road bridge, the Forth Bridge, with its distinctive red appearance, wins every time. “Because of its design, the engineering involved, and especially its history, the other two just can’t compete,” he said. “It’s remarkable to think the Forth Bridge was opened in 1890 and yet it still looks flawless in pictures today.”

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Debating the respective merits of these three engineering masterpieces has until now been little more than bar room banter. But on March 27, some of the country’s experts on the subject will gather in Glasgow to try and settle the matter once and for all.

The three Forth bridges at sunset. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA

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Members of the public have been invited by Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to attend a debate dubbed the “Battle of the Bridges” and vote on which is their favourite.

Engineers who have worked on all three will present their case on which crossing they think should win the title.

“The three bridges spanning the Forth at South Queensferry represent a concentration of engineering excellence with three centuries of bridge design,” an ICE spokesperson said.

The Forth Bridge, which carries the east coast mainline, was opened on March 4, 1890, by the future Edward VII. Picture: Rob McDougall

“These bridges not only provide the valuable transport infrastructure on which our economy depends, but they also enhance Scotland’s skyline and contribute to a sense of place.

“The iconic bridges over the River Forth attract tourists from around the world and are the finest examples of civil engineering of their age. Each bridge has a different design and represented a leap in engineering at the time it was built, breaking new records.”

The debate takes place at the University of Strathclyde’s technology and innovation centre in Glasgow from 5.30-7.30pm.

The Forth Road Bridge, right, pictured shortly before its opening in 1964. Picture: TSPL
The three Forth bridges at sunset. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA
The Forth Bridge, which carries the east coast mainline, was opened on March 4, 1890, by the future Edward VII. Picture: Rob McDougall
The Forth Road Bridge, right, pictured shortly before its opening in 1964. Picture: TSPL