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The Grand Opening of the Forth Bridge

A Royal Ceremony

On a windy Tuesday 4th March 1890, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales arrived by train at Forth Bridge for the opening ceremony of the Forth Bridge.

Earlier trials of the Bridge had been completed so the Prince was not aboard the first train to cross the Bridge. However, as reported in news articles at the time, the Prince and his illustrious guests first slowly crossed by steam train from south to north to inspect the Bridge. After alighting at North Queensferry, they boarded the steam-launch Dolphin to survey the Bridge from below as they completed a circuit around Inchgarvie Island. The Prince’s party then returned to the train to travel back across the Bridge.

Image | Drawing of the opening of the Forth Bridge by HRH The Prince of Wales

The Final Rivet

The train stopped at a special platform on the north connecting girder where he was invited to secure the final rivet – a specially inscribed gilded rivet, using a silver key made by Hamilton and Inches of Edinburgh.

Image | Drawing of HRH The Prince of Wales driving in the final rivet on the Forth Bridge

After a second stop on the southern great cantilever pier, the Prince’s speech was cut short by the strong winds, so he quickly announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare the Forth Bridge open.”

A superb luncheon followed in the engineers’ Model Room at the bridgeworks where the Prince announced that Queen Victoria was to bestow honours on the Chairman of the Forth Bridge company, its engineers Mr Baker and Mr Fowler, and the contractor Mr Arrol.

Image | Drawing of the men who led the construction of the Forth Bridge

Many thanks to local historian and member of The Briggers, Mr Frank Hay for these images.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare the Forth Bridge open."

Background image - Opening Of Forth Bridge