The Tay Rail Bridge, built in the Firth of Tay at Dundee, officially opened in May 1878. The River Tay is the longest in Scotland, and the bridge was an important crossing point across to Fife from Dundee and down to Edinburgh. The Prime Minister at the time of building was Sir John Gladstone. He had received a strong letter of appeal against the Tay Rail Bridge by Patrick Matthew in 1869. But who was this man and what were his concerns?
Patrick Matthew was a man local to the Carse of Gowrie - a landowner, farmer, orchard-grower, anthropologist, explorer and social justice campaigner. He was a man of great knowledge but little power. Patrick Matthew was told that the plans on the bridge were far too advanced and things could not be changed.
If only Gladstone, Thomas Bouch – designer of the bridge – and those who were exposed to Patrick Matthew’s letters of appeal had taken his words more seriously. The date of 28th December 1879 would not be so auspicious. We would have been saved the tragedy of the bridge’s central navigation spans collapsing. We would have been saved the fall of 6 carriages. 75 people would have been spared their fate.
Well that’s enough information given away! Patrick Matthew’s pleas against the Tay Rail Bridge will be brought to life this September, as we take to the River Tay in a unique experience celebrating the life and works of this influential and educated man. To hear more, we have Linsay Duncan on board, telling those who venture on the Tay the history of Patrick Matthews and explaining what happened on that fateful night.
The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group are running three sailing trips aboard the Taymara boat, from Broughty Ferry down to Mugdrum Island, where Matthew suggested the bridge ought to have been built.
Trips are running Friday 29th September 9am, Saturday 30th September 10am, and Sunday 1st October (11am) and cost £30 per person. Tours will last approximately three hours. Places are limited.
Please message us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your space! We envisage there will be a high demand for spaces, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
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