A UNIQUE collection of memorabilia from the world famous Forth Bridge has gone on display at Blair Castle.
Original drawings, old photographs, technical instruments used to draw plans for the crossing, and the bridge’s original visitors book are among the items on show at the stately home in Perthshire.
The items were brought together by Jamie Troughton, husband of Blair Castle Trustee, Sarah Troughton, and great-grandson of John Fowler, architect of the Forth Bridge.
Before turning his talents to the Forth, Fowler’s first job was equally high profile – designing the London Metropolitan Railway, the first underground railway in the world.
With the Forth Bridge objects having been stored at the castle for many years, the current Year of Architecture & Innovation has given the castle the perfect opportunity to share them with a wider audience by placing them on display.
Jane Anderson, the archivist for Blair Castle and Atholl Estates, said: “It has be well documented that not only was the construction of the Rail Bridge a massive achievement of Victorian engineering ability but that it was built to last, and indeed, has not encountered the recent problems which have beset the Forth Road Bridge.
“Some of the original old photographs we have on display here at the Castle show the Rail Bridge at pretty much the stage that the new Queensferry Crossing is at now – with ‘tantalising’ gaps soon to close up to present a unified bridge.
She added: “We hope that members of the public will find these items extremely interesting. We feel it’s an ideal fit for the current Year of Architecture & Innovation.
“In Victorian times, the castle was a leading light in introducing hydro power too as we have an exhibition section on this also in the Banvie Hall. It seems to have been the case that many of the Highland estates came to work with some of country finest minds, whether to improve their estates or to become patron of projects.”
The exhibition material on the introduction of Hydro Power to Atholl Estates charts how the original scheme was competed in 1908 under the 7th Duke, by a firm called Gilkes of Kendall, who went on to complete the five later hydro-electric schemes for the estate between 2010 and 2015.
Documents such as the original accounts from the contractors are on display as well as early gas and electric lighting used in the castle.
“There is no doubt that the estate was ahead of its time in introducing hydro power in the earlier part of the last century,” said Jane.
“We don’t know the exact date but an aqueduct was built to carry water from the River Tilt tributary, Alt Slanaidh Burn, to a holding dam above Blairuachdar to supply a water powered saw mill. The power of water was clearly harnessed from early times.”
The first hydro scheme saw a turbine installed on the bank of the Banvie Burn, supplied by the holding dam above Blairuachdar. The pipeline still acts as a water feed for the castle’s fire hydrants. This project provided power for the castle and several properties on the estate.
“This scheme was revived and reinstalled under the Castle Scheme, a project which was completed last year. With a capacity of 90 kilowatts, this scheme proudly reinstated water power to Blair Castle itself.”
The current exhibitions on the Forth Rail Bridge and Hydro Power run in the Banvie Hall at Blair Castle until the end of October 2016.