Symbol of Scotland is true worldbeater

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The Forth Bridge now shares a status with just three other bridges on the planet after being officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And the superstructure, hailed as genius feat of engineering received the global accolade 128 years to the day after it opened.

It came three years on from a key meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee where the bridge was named as part of 23 new culture sites worthy of honour .

Other new names included Singapore Botanic Gardens, a baptism site in the River Jordan and the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey.

The plaque was unveiled at the Boathouse Steps at a special ceremony, which beat the odds weather-wise last Sunday. It was organised and attended by a host of groups involved with the bridge plus local schoolchildren.

Network Rail’s Ian Heigh, the senior project manager who oversaw the completion of the bridge’s refurbishment, was invited to unveil the plaque – in line with a request from the other groups involved.

Mr Heigh said: “The bridge is rightly recognised as an engineering icon and is also a symbol of Scotland, which is instantly familiar. It plays as vital a role in Scotland’s railway and economy now as it first did in Victorian times, carrying over 200 trains a day to and from the nation’s capital. Network Rail is proud to be the custodian of the bridge and invested over £130m on a 10-year restoration programme which will safeguard the future of the structure for decades to come.”

He was ably assisted by Ferry Fair Queen Niamh Jack, whose dad Robert said: “Niamh was very honoured to be asked to help on such a special occasion for South Queensferry. Where the plaque has been positioned it gives everyone a great view of the Forth Bridge as well.”

Another participant,Mark Watson, deputy head of Industrial Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We were pleased to join our partners and the community of South Queensferry here. The bridge stands, as UNESCO says, as a work of human creative genius and its excellent condition, is an exemplar to those managing major engineering infrastructure the world over.”

Queensferry & District Community Council chairman Keith Giblett said: “I consider it an honour to have been invited to work with both Forth Bridges Forum and Queensferry groups to organise this. We were also very pleased that Mr Haigh accepted our invitation to unveil the plaque as no-one has one more for the Forth Bridge.”

Meanwhile Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “It is wonderful news that there is now a clear and permanent display highlighting the Forth Bridge’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“It is a symbol of Scotland’s industrial, architectural and transport heritage and, in particular, our engineering pedigree and ingenuity. Sitting alongside the stunning new Queensferry Crossing and the first Forth Road Bridge, we can now see three fabulous examples of Scottish architecture spanning three centuries.

“The Scottish Government was pleased to support Historic Environment Scotland and Network Rail on securing World Heritage Status in 2015, and on the displaying of this plaque.”