Despite being over 300 miles apart, our link to Scotland dates right back to the construction of Tower Bridge, in the late 1800s.
A bridge building legacy
The iconic stonework of Tower Bridge hides an impressive steel skeleton forming the main structure, which was constructed by the Scottish civil engineering company Sir William Arrol & Co.
They were based in Glasgow and had built some of the United Kingdom’s most famous bridges, including the Forth Bridge and Tay Rail Bridge.
Tower Bridge was in many ways, a Scottish product:
The angles, tees and plates (sections of steel) were supplied by The Steel Company of Scotland, A and J Stuart and Clydesdale.
The steel stairs inside the towers were cast in one of Kirkintilloch’s best-known foundries, the Lion Foundry, which opened in 1880.
The ornamental cast iron parapets and decorative panels for the footways were produced by Fullerton, Hodgart and Barclay of Paisley.
The steelwork was constructed in Glasgow and despatched using Clyde Shipping Company and Carron Company’s steamers - the Carron Company being an ironworks located near Falkirk in Stirlingshire.
Our recent research into the Sir William Arrol & Co workers has shown many moved down from Scotland to build Tower Bridge, using the bridge-building skills gained from the Forth and Tay bridges.
People like John Merker, who worked as a crane driver, lifting the heavy materials to the top of the bridge, and John Black 'the driller', who drilled some of the estimated three million rivet holes required to hold up the massive internal steel frame. The number of experienced bridge builders working on Tower Bridge has been credited as the reason for so few injuries during its construction.