Monday, 5 September 2011

Good News

The 8,300ft cantilever Forth Bridge, the construction of which was started in the 1880s, introduced a famous idiom '... be like painting the Forth Bridge.'

The construction of an earlier bridge got as far as the laying of the foundation stone, but it was stopped because it was designed by Sir Thomas Bouch, who had designed the Tay Bridge which collapsed in 1879, causing the death of the 75 passengers on board. Bouch's reputation as an engineer was rightly ruined and the then owners Northern British Railway cancelled his contract and two Englishmen, Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, took over the project.

Bouch's design had proposed a suspension bridge whereas Sir John and Sir Benjamin had proposed a cantilever structure.

Until 1917 when the Quebec Bridge was completed, it was the longest cantilever bridge in the world.

When I was a child I journeyed over the Forth Bridge on many occasions - most of them very happy times when I'd been on family days out and I can remember wondering how the Forth Bridge painters managed to do their maintenance in high winds, freezing temperatures and on wet, wet days, but they did.

Now Network Rail, who manage the bridge have announced it will not need to be painted again for 25 years and that brings to an end the task in which teams of workers used to have to begin repainting as soon as they finished the last coat.

Over the years various paints have been trialled in an attempt to find one which could provide some longevity and at last one has been found. It is a specialist glass flake epoxy similar to that used in the offshore oil industry.

Stripping of the old layers of paint applied over the past 120 years has taken 10 years and cost £130 million.  Now it has been restored to its original condition and Network Rail say the new paint will preserve the steelworks for decades to come.

The bridge should be free of scaffolding by Christmas and it will be wonderful to view it from the road bridge without it.  However, my favourite sight of the bridge is when my plane circles over the Forth and shows the full glory of such a feat of engineering.  Then I know I'm home.

This news leaves me with a problem though. With what can I replace the idiom which I use reasonably regularly?


Nikostratos said...

Just like listening to a speech by Alex Salmond on Independence........

repetitive,boring and keeps endlessly recurring

Nikostratos said...

Just like listening to a speech by Alex Salmond on Independence........

repetitive,boring and keeps endlessly recurring

Highland Cooncil said...

Passive smoking is the primary cause of global warming. Everyone knows that.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Like waiting for a straight answer from a Politician

subrosa said...

Rather like the problem of the labour leadership Niko. :)

subrosa said...

Of course they do HC - the stupid have to have something to believe.

subrosa said...

Pavolov, exactly.

subrosa said...

Not only passive smoking but third hard smoke HC. Everyone knows that.

I could tell you a few stories anout 'third hand' smoke but I fear for the level your blood pressure as they're so stupid.

The Boiling Frog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Boiling Frog said...

I found the journey over the Forth bridge a slight disappointment as a kid - you couldn't see anything. You can appreciate the bridge far more from the road bridge.

Always intriguing that the Forth Bridge and the Tower Bridge in London were open within a short space of each other and how fundamentally different they are. At the time the FB must have looked like something out of the space age whereas TB looked 'old' from the start

Anonymous said...

Hi Subrosa!

Because I haven't spoken recently, don't think that I do not check your blog frequently!

I couldn't resist the comment, "So we can expect the bridge to fall down soon then, can we?"

You could say, "Like waiting for SHS to hurt someone". Not very good. Crap really. How about, "Like watching Holyrood on TV"

There are somethings which simply do not translate! I suppose that that is why they persist. I suppose that it because of the combination of the visualisation and the idea. It is a curious and wonderful thing about our language, is it not? Very subtle.

But the way our language is being bastardised is worrying. Who could have thought that a lovely word like 'abuse' (meaning verbal assault) could become synonymous with telling off a naughty child? Or a heart 'condition' become 'heart disease', when no 'disease' is involved? Or, the Body Mass Index benchmarks be reduced overnight to bring millions of 'bonny' or 'pleasantly plump' people into 'overweight' or 'obese'?

It strikes me as very odd that journalists are at the forefront of this bastardisation of our language. Very odd indeed - unless, in the very short term, it is to their advantage. Reminds you of politicians, does it not? In fact.......Short term


subrosa said...

That's true Froggy although you get a good view from Crammond or the Fife side.

If I had to choose an 'icon' then it would have to be the FB. It still looks very unique even today.

subrosa said...

Hi Junican, good to hear from you.

You cynic you. :) It wasn't the old paint that was holding it together you know.

The Holyrood one just may catch on don't you think?

Don't speak to me about bastardisation of English. Even the BBC now don't know the difference between 'ground' and 'floor'.

Pavlov's Cat said...

@Boiling Frog, if I may just add
.whereas TB looked 'old' from the start

Tower bridge was intended to look old, over 50 designs were submitted, some impracticable, but some as radical as the Fourth Bridge (submitted no doubt by the 18th C equivalent of Norman 'Gherkin' Foster )

However in their wisdom they decided these designs would not be in keeping with the area.

Unfortunately this didn't carry on into the 20th C which leaves us with such abominations as The Shard, The Cheese Grater, The Mobile Phone and The London Eye

Peter Melia said...

It would be interesting if the figures for the total cost of
removing the old paint,
plus the cost of applying the new paint,
plus the inevitable touch up repairs, despite “ will not need to be painted again for 25 years.”
And suppose it was thought fair and reasonable to allow, for a (say) reasonable amount of 5% of budget for special paint touch-ups, bearing in mind that because it is such special paint, the touch-ups will not be just a little chipping, priming, repainting,
but a little, an expensive little,unfortunately, lot more

The annual maintenance budget must scarcely be a secret, therefore it would it be possible and easy for it to be shown, to taxpayers.

Of particular interest would be the item, “Paint”,which should show,


Figure all of this out for the next 25 years.

Then compare it with
the estimates for normal bridge repairs attributable to paint breakdown, for the next 25 years.
Plus steel renewals, bearing in mind that the components must all be well documented, and illustrated, and beams can easily be prefabricated in advance
by the cheapest international steelmaker at the time.

I feel sure that both (A) & (B) have been carefully calculated and that all of the figures are available somewhere,and show a clear monetary advantage,
(A) over (B).

subrosa said...

Peter, I've looked round google to find the cost of the new paint (because it was reported in the past few years) but can't find any link.

Indeed, it would be interesting to see the details rather than just a press release.

Brian said...

It's a little known fact that the Forth Bridge was originally painted with concentrated Irn Bru, hence the colour. It was extremely durable surfacing,if sticky on hot days, and only needed recovering after summers with particularly large numbers of wasps. Sugar rationing in WW2 meant that paint had to be substituted, originally on a temporary basis, but permanently after a research scientist accidentally drank a sample of diluted Irn Bru and survived, albeit toothless, to enlighten his colleagues of the particularly refreshing taste of the liquid.
More seriously, if painting the bridge was a continuous task, didn't that indicate that insufficient painters were employed? It's like call centres, your call is important to us, where one has to wait ages for the next available advisor. If my call was really important it would be answered immediately.

subrosa said...

A good point Brian. Love the fable too. :)

As for call centres don't get me started.

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