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1979: Tay Bridge rail disaster remembered
Many passengers will be retracing the fatal journey to mark 100 years since gales plunged a railway bridge and passenger train into icy waters killing 75.

The disaster occurred on the Tay Bridge over the Silvery Tay, near Dundee, which collapsed after the central spans gave way.

British Rail has commissioned a special train to take people across the new bridge at the exact time of the accident 1915 GMT of the 1720 from Burntisland to Dundee.

Arrangements have been made for a short memorial service for the victims of the disaster, the crew and passengers who plunged 88ft. A wreath will be cast into the water from the train.

Some passengers, who will begin their journey in Sunderland, are expected to get off the train just before it crosses the bridge fearing superstition.

The North-West branch of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain is avoiding any fears of a repetition and has organised a similar excursion for tomorrow - the Tay Bridge 100 - heading north from Crewe.

Anniversary events first got under way last month in Dundee with students retracing the steps of the journey to study the new architecture of the bridge and what went wrong 100 years ago.

The library and museum have each opened exhibitions with a documentary, photography and relics from the smashed coaches and bridge.


The cross-river link from Dundee was a celebrated feat of architecture when it first opened spanning almost two miles and cutting journey time from the city to London by five hours.

The architect Thomas Bouch was awarded a knighthood by Queen Victoria who used it to travel to her Scottish retreat in Balmoral.

It provided speedier delivery of coals and no need for passenger ferries.

Construction took six years and cost 300,000 and the almost two mile long bridge was opened on 31 May 1878.

Six months later 1,000 yards of the bridge plunged into the waters leaving Dundee with a legacy it cannot forget.

Only 46 bodies were retrieved and for months later wreckage from the disaster was washed up sometimes at a distance of 150 miles.

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Original Tay Bridge
The original Tay Bridge collapsed during a storm

Passengers retrace the fatal journey

In Context
The bridge's construction was a mammoth accomplishment which inspired world renowned poet William MacGonagall to put pen to paper about it.

The tragedy stunned the whole country and the ensuing enquiry revealed the design of the bridge did not allow for high winds such as which took place on that evening.

Faults were found in nearly every aspect of the bridge's engineering.

The engine itself was salvaged, repaired and restored to the railways.

Structural members from the collapsed bridge were salvaged - and more than 100 of the original spans, called girders, were re-used in the construction of the new railway bridge.

Work began three years after the disaster and was completed in 1887.

Many of the piers of the original bridge are visible on this construction.

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