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Science, Maths & Technology

The Tay Bridge Disaster: Aftermath

Updated Wednesday, 9th May 2007

The aftermath of the Tay Bridge Disaster, part of the BBC/OU's programme website for Forensic Engineering.

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Tay Bridge, collapsed Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: St Andrew's Valentine Collection

As a result of the inquiry into the Tay Bridge disaster, several measures were put into place:

  • All Bouch's bridges were examined and reinforced or rebuilt.
  • Steel was approved by the Board of Trade for use in bridges. Designs using cast iron columns were barred.
  • Regular and frequent inspections of bridges were made during and following construction by Board of Trade personnel.
  • A new Tay Bridge was built adjacent and parallel to the original bridge reusing undamaged girders with some modifications. The new bridge is over twice the width to allow double rail tracks and greater lateral stability. Piers in the centre were built from wrought iron lattice work and steel. Original pier platforms were retained to act as breakwaters for the new bridge. New piers were tested by static loading for settlement. The building was started in 1881 and finished in 1885.
  • Contract for the new Forth bridge with Bouch as designer was re-assigned to Fowler, Benjamin Baker and Arrol. This had a cantilever design built in steel. It was started in 1883 and finished in 1890.
  • A Royal Commission on "Wind Pressure on Railway Structures" was set up in 1881. Members of the Commission included W H Barlow, G G Stokes and W Yolland. An extensive survey of wind speeds and pressures using anemometers was undertaken at numerous locations. Examples of overturned carriages by wind action were examined. A maximum wind pressure of 56 per square foot for design of bridges and rules for applying this specification to bridges of different construction were recommended.




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