Advice and Support

Forth Bridge

A masterpiece of human creative genius, this 2.5km-long bridge spans the River Forth estuary.

1 Overview

The Forth Bridge is a 2.5km-long, 110m-high cantilever bridge, linking Edinburgh and the Lothians to the south with Fife and the Highlands to the north.

Stretching across the estuary of the River Forth, the Forth Bridge was innovative in its design, materials and scale – while it avoids decoration, it achieves tremendous grace for something so solid.

The Forth Bridge was designed by English engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker and constructed by William Arrol of Glasgow. The firm was also in the process of rebuilding the Tay Bridge and building the Tower Bridge in London. At the time of its completion in 1890, the Forth Bridge was:

  • the longest cantilever bridge span in the world – a title it held for 27 years
  • the world’s first major steel structure
  • representative of a landmark event in the application of science to architecture

Today, the Forth Bridge remains a potent symbol of Britain’s industrial, scientific, architectural and transport heritage.

A major rail crossing, the bridge still carries more than 200 trains a day. It was restored during an ambitious refurbishment programme, completed in 2011.

2 Inscription and significance

UNESCO inscribed the Forth Bridge as a World Heritage Site on 5 July 2015.

Its Statement of Outstanding Universal Value describes the bridge as a masterpiece of human creative genius and an aesthetic triumph in its achievement of tremendous grace, despite its solid construction and lack of any decoration.

The Forth Bridge’s steel-built cantilever design represents a unique level of creative genius, used to conquer a natural barrier of a scale and depth that had never before been overcome by humans.

A unique milestone in the evolution of bridge and other steel construction, the Forth Bridge is innovative in its design, concept, materials and enormous scale. Its application of science to architecture went on to profoundly influence mankind in ways beyond bridge-building.

3 Visit the Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge is located in central Scotland. It crosses the Forth River estuary between North Queensferry in Fife and Queensferry in the Lothians.

There’s no access onto the bridge itself at present, but information is available at:

For more information, email

Download the Forth Bridge leaflet (various languages)

4 Management of the Forth Bridge

Network Rail owns the Forth Bridge and is responsible for its operation and maintenance, but wider World Heritage issues are coordinated by the Forth Bridges Forum.

The Forum is responsible for implementing actions in the Forth Bridge World Heritage Management Plan. It includes representatives from:

Download the Forth Bridge World Heritage Site Management Plan [PDF, 6MB]

Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and management plan

Each World Heritage Site has a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, which:

  • clearly states the reasons for the site’s inscription on the World Heritage List
  • identifies what must be protected, conserved and managed to protect its Outstanding Universal Value for the long term

UNESCO also requires each site to have a management plan. This provides a shared framework for a site’s active:

  • conservation
  • management
  • enhancement

The Forth Bridge World Heritage Site: Statement of Outstanding Universal Value is currently in development.