Forth Road Bridge’s 50th parade axed

Plans to stage a parade across the Forth Road Bridge to mark its 50th anniversary next year have been scrapped.

Bridge bosses and Police Scotland feared that the complete closure of the bridge for up to five hours would cause widespread traffic disruption.

And there were safety concerns too for the expected 12,500 spectators that would be on the bridge to witness the spectacle.

And in the worse case scenario, high winds could force the total cancellation of the event planned for September 7, 2014.

Now instead organisers propose to stage a smaller parade at Hopetoun House as part of a larger family event.

At last week’s Forth Estuary Transport Authority meeting, bridge bosses confirmed it would now look at an alternative procession on the bridge, either an evening or midnight torchlit procession.

They said more than 18,000 vehicle crossings would have been affected by the planned parade. Bridge chief engineer Barry Colford said: “There is a significant risk the inevitable ‘teething problems’ of staging a unique event of this size for the first time could overshadow any positive impact, particularly if there is no consensus that it is desirable to close the bridge for this occasion.

‘‘There remains a strong desire amongst local residents and businesses that some form of parade or procession be held on the structure itself.”

A proposed evening torchlit procession would see one carriageway of the bridge closed to traffic while the the midnight procession would see a full bridge closure, with only around 1100 vehicles affected. FETA will make a final decision within days.

Meanwhile thee communities on both sides of the Forth are to be invited to help create a digital scrapbook as part of the Forth Bridges Festival.

Members of the public will be invited to share their memories, stories, experiences and photographs of the two Forth bridges with the aim to conserve their heritage for future generations.

And a special one day ancestry event is proposed which will give locals the opportunity to learn more about the history of the two bridges and of those who were involved in the construction.

Both the digital scrapbook and the ancestry event are to be funded thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund award for £51,400.

Attempts have been made to record both bridge’s history in the past but this grant will ensure it becomes a reality.