Reported in the News Letter on September 5, 1964: Opening of £20m Forth Road Bridge is spoiled by fog


There was an Ulster touch at the opening by the Queen of the new Forth Road Bridge – a Royal salute fired by HMS Londonderry and seven other ships of the Navy.

The vessels were assembled almost in the shadow of the giant £20million structure, but the 21-gun salute was scarcely audible because heavy fog muffled it.

The fog also robbed the spectacle of the official opening of much of its colour. And it caused the cancellation of a fly-past by the RAF.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were the first official passengers carried by the new bridge. The Royal couple drove across its one-and-a-half mile length after the short opening ceremony yesterday.

Three hours before the opening was due to start, cars were streaming out of Edinburgh towards the bridge. Some spectators had to leave their cars about six miles away, and at 9.30 – 90 minutes before the start – thousands were queueing for buses from the car park to the bridge.

Along the route to the bridge, the Scottish National Party had put their protests against the toll charge in a series of posters strategically placed at the roadside.

One of them said: “Fifteen pounds and 2s 6d – It’s time we voted SNP.”

Another said: “England’s tolls are not for us. Go the other way or take the bus.”

The bridge links Edinburgh with Fife, replacing a ferry service. About 6,000 vehicles a day are expected to use it initially but the road has been designed to carry 25,000 vehicles daily.

Two main towers, each about 500 feet high, carry the suspension cables, which themselves contain 8,000 tons of galvanised steel.

Each cable is 7,000 feet long and is made up of 11,618 parallel wires. The cables have enough wire to go one-and-a-quarter times round the world.