The Tay Bridge Disaster

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”


4 responses to “The Tay Bridge Disaster

  1. Magical photo. AND we have to give McGonagal credit for daring to use “buttresses” in a rhyming poem. He may be the only one courageous/lunatic enough to have made such and attempt!

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