The Tay Bridge is a railway bridge approximately 2.75 miles long that spans the Firth of Tay in Scotland, between the city of Dundee and the suburb of Wormit in Fife.
At 7:15 p.m., 28 December 1879, the central spans of the Tay bridge collapsed into the Firth of Tay at Dundee, sending a train including six carriages and 75 people into the water below. At the time, a gale – force 10 to 11 – was blowing down the Tay estuary at right angles to the bridge. The collapse of the bridge, opened only 19 months earlier and passed safe by the Board of Trade, is still the most famous bridge disaster in the British Isles.
It is the subject of a long poem by William Topaz MacGonagal, famous for being the world’s best bad (published) poet:
“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 shall be remembered for a very long time.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Oh! Ill-fated bridge of the silv’ry Tay
I now must conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay
That your central girders would not have given way
At least many sensible men do say
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses
At least many sensible men confesses
For the stronger we our houses build
The less chance we have of being killed”