Brechin man reminisces about Tay Road Bridge 50 years on

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A Brechin man has reminisced about his involvement in the construction of the Tay Road Bridge more than 50 years ago.

The bridge reached its half century on August 18.

Designed by William A Fairhurst, it took three years to build at a cost of £4.8 million.

Construction began on the bridge in 1963, which controversially saw the demolition of Dundee’s Royal Arch to make way for the structure.

That was where Queen Victoria had entered the city on a royal visit during the 19th century.

The construction involved the erection of a temporary bridge.

In 1963, several Brechin men - brothers Tom and Andy Church, Dave Morrison, Eddy Bryce, Bob Williamson, Eaton Taylor, Neil Robertson and Sye Fyfe - were involved in the building of the provisional bridge.

Out of the eight men, only two of them, Tom Church and Neil Robertson, are still alive today.

Tom, who still lives in Brechin, said: “It was all Brechin men that worked on the temporary one.

“I was ‘Spiderman’ and did all the high work.

“I was only 19.

“I’m proud to have been part of it.

“It’s sad that most of the guys aren’t here anymore.

“I definitely have a fond memory of building it.

“I can’t believe 50 years has past.”

The Tay Road Bridge is 2250m in length and spans the estuary of the river Tay between Dundee and Newport-on-Tay.

The main structure comprises 42 spans.

Its construction put an abrupt end to a common sight on the Tay; the regular ferries between Dundee and Newport-on-Tay, which were affectionately dubbed ‘the Fifies’.

It was officially opened by the Queen Mother on August 18, 1966.

Spanning 1.4 miles across the river, the Tay Road Bridge was at the time one of the longest of its kind to be found in Europe.

On an average day, it carries some 26,000 vehicles - more than five times the load it was designed to carry.

Bridge tolls were abolished on February 11, 2008, on both the Tay and Forth road bridges.

Tom Church, sculptor and monumental mason, is famous for his ‘Braveheart’ statue.

Tom was inspired by the film ‘Braveheart’ and the portrayal of William Wallace by Mel Gibson.

Since its completion the statue has been acclaimed world-wide and appeared in numerous publications and television programmes.

For 10 years it was on loan and exhibited beside the Wallace Monument in Stirling but in 2012 it came back home to Brechin.