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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Memorial for Forth Bridge workers
Forth Rail Bridge
Experts are still investigating the exact death toll
A memorial to workers killed during the construction of the Forth Bridge has been unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond.

He described the iconic bridge as a "blood red wonder" at the event in South Queensferry on Tuesday.

The memorial honours the known 71 men and boys who died during the seven years it took to build the bridge.

It is believed the actual figure is much higher. Research into the exact number is still being carried out.

It's an iconic image - it's the wonder of Scotland
Alex Salmond
First Minister

The first minister performed the unveiling along with the consul general of Japan, Shuhei Takahashi, in light of the Japanese engineers who also worked on the bridge's construction.

Mr Salmond praised those who fought for the memorial.

He said: "They have finally done what should have been done many years ago and come up with an image which recognises the sacrifice and honours the memory of those who made that sacrifice, but also recognises the strength and lasting endurance of this blood red wonder of a golden age."

Mr Salmond later explained that "blood red" was a reference to those who lost their lives building it.

But he added: "It's an iconic image of Scotland - it's the wonder of Scotland."

He was joined at the event by Hamish Gilchrist, who created the memorial.

Mr Gilchrist also paid tribute to those who died in the construction of the bridge.

Work began on the one-and-a-half mile bridge between South Queensferry and Fife in 1883 and at its peak 4,600 worked on it. It finally opened in 1890.

Most of the deaths are believed to have occurred during the erection of the three main cantilevers, but workers were also killed on the surrounding jetties, on supply ships and constructing the approach railways.

The Queensferry History Group has been working to uncover the true extent of the death toll.


SEE ALSO
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Bridge death inquiry gains pace
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