Why Did The Tay Bridge Collapse

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Executive summary The Tay Bridge collapsed on the violent stormy night of December 28th 1879. Perishing the lives of all on board including staff, this disaster was one in which history did not want to repeat itself. The Tay Bridge began as Scotland's biggest achievement in engineering and ended as 'An Appalling Disaster' as stated by The Evening Telegraph on December 29th 1879. Many factors were taken into consideration as to why this engineering design failed so early after being completed, such as materials, testing and structure. Many were also left wondering who was to blame and names such as The North British Railway, The Board of Trade and more commonly know, designer Mr Thomas Bouch were all in the firing line. The truth of the matter…show more content…
There were so many positives to the initial idea of the bridge by Thomas Bouch such as his plan to shorten rail time, save money annually for the North British Railway and bring prosperity to Dundee. However, numerous and crucial mistakes happened in the process all which lead to the destruction of the large bridge, but many people go by what was published at the time and that was that Bouch was completely to blame for bad design, management and maintenance. Mr Thomas Bouch was born in 1822 and went on to become a qualified civil engineer. He had experience in Northern England from working on the development of railways, and shortly became manager of the Edinburgh and Northern Railway when he moved to Scotland. 'Business men regarded him as a dreamer' (Perkins 1) Bouch built up an immense reputation and made an impact on the way in which the Edinburgh and Northern Railway worked. ' Thomas Bouch came to realised that the traffic between Edinburgh and Dundee would never be properly worked until the Tay and Forth were Bridged' (Perkins 1). From here, Bouch set out to design his plan on the Tay Bridge that he thought would improve the ferry service and set the North Railway apart from its competitors. Metal fatigue was one of the first parts that had an important part in the failure of the bridge. Iron Columns were made…show more content…
FIG. 1 FIG. 2 It was estimated that for an extra £300-£400, the bolts holding the bridge to the ground could have been secured deeper into the the foundations. “The bases of the pier were not bolted down securely to the brick or masonry superstructure, but merely pinned to the top two courses..”(T. Martin, 1995) Four of the twelve piers that fell four were found to have moved a considerable amount from the foundations. This is one hypothesis as to why the bridge crippled under the stress of the weather and the train. Another way it could have been prevented.... Materials that were available as sturdy strong components to a bridge were usually, cast or wrought iron, wood and Bessemer steel the 1870's. Steel was a relatively new medium. The first steel bridge was the Brooklyn bridge in 1883 four years after the Tay Bridge. It was only in 1900 when Carbon steel was being introduced into mega-structures. Bessemer steel named after its Inventor Henry Bessemer had been around for thirty years by 1879 and had revolutionised how steel was used taking the cost from £40 per bar to £7-9 per bar, However it was not strong enough for the stresses a bridge had to take. Cast iron was the best medium to be

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