Monday, January 01, 2018

Setting out gingerly across the Tay Bridge


When I was a student at York there was a train that left at two in the morning for Edinburgh. A couple of friends and I decided that, after finals, we would catch it.

And so we did. I remember wandering around Edinburgh in the very early morning sun and then dozing for the rest of the day.

We got as far as Aberdeen, and this photograph must have been taken on that day in 1981. It shows my train setting out gingerly across the Tay Bridge. In those days it was commonplace to lean out of a train window and take a photograph.

The stubs of piers in the water beside it are the remains of the first bridge. This failed catastrophically in 1879, killing all 74 or 75 people aboard a train that was crossing it at the time. I am always aware of this when I make the crossing.

The disaster and their deaths were immortalised in the poem by Willliam McGonagall:
Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
And so on.

The Tay Bridge was one of the five favourite bridges I once chose on this blog. (What are yours?)

As I wrote then:
When you take a train across it this does not feel like a bridge over a river or even an estuary. It feels like a bridge over the open sea.

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