Tay Bridge wins top prize at railway heritage awards

A 20-year-long refurbishment of one of Britain’s most iconic bridges has won the top prize at the National Railway Heritage Awards.

The event, on 5 December, recognised the £75m restoration of the Tay Bridge - the longest rail structure in Britain - as best overall entry following its completion in autumn 2017.

The prize went to Network Rail and main contractor Taziker, which carried out an extensive programme of strengthening, repair and repainting works on the Category A-listed bridge.

The Tay Bridge during refurbishment

Stretching 2.75 miles, the Tay Bridge carries the railway across the Firth of Tay. It was built between 1883 and 1887 and consists of 80 metallic spans constructed of wrought iron and 44 masonry arches on the approaches to the north and south.

Local repairs and re-painting of its approach spans started in 1996 while strengthening repairs took place between 2000 and 2004. Grit blasting and repainting began in 2006 - with a total of 245,000 square metres of wrought iron and steel repainted.

The Tay Bridge and plans

Matthew Spence, route delivery director for Scotland at Network Rail, said: "It is great to see the project recognised in this way and this award caps two decades of hard work in what can be extremely testing conditions.

"Delivering a job of this scale in such an exposed location has been an ongoing challenge for our engineers and our contractors, but with the refurbishment now complete, the bridge will require minimal maintenance for the next 25 years."

The award is the second in two years for Network Rail Scotland - the restoration of the A-listed Edwardian Wemyss Bay station won best entry at the 2017 awards.

The station, in Inverclyde, benefitted from a two-year, £5m renovation between 2014 and 2016 that restored its canopies and glazed roof, repainted and improved the station buildings and repaired the nearby seawall.

Network Rail also won at this year’s awards:

The BAM Nuttall Structures Restoration Award for the best restored structure for work undertaken in refurbishing and strengthening Cynghordy Viaduct on the scenic Central Wales line between Shrewsbury and Swansea.

The Stagecoach Volunteers Award - Network Rail staff had voluntarily undertaken the restoration of the signs on the East Coast Main Line in Scotland highlighting the distances to London – 350 miles – and Edinburgh – 50 miles.

The Great Western Railway Craft Skills Award, recognising the best use of traditional craft skills in the restoration of a building or structure. Network Rail and Colt Construction won for the restoration of the clock tower at Cleethorpes Station and were named joint winners with Historic Environment Scotland for the engine shed at Stirling.