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October 1964 cover of Life and Work
October 1964 cover of Life and Work

Looking Back: The Opening of the Forth Road Bridge

Monday September 4 2017

On the day we celebrate the official opening of the new Queensferry Crossing, Life and Work today looks back to October 1964 when our cover focussed on the opening of the Forth Road Bridge.

Author and historian Nigel Tranter had been at the forefront of a campaign to replace the ferry service, first established by St Margaret, with a road crossing. He contributed a piece offering the background to the building of the Forth Road Bridge.

However, local churches also played a key part in the opening and ceremonies to mark the end  of the historic ferry service.




THE last ferry to cross the Forth sailed 48 hours after the new road bridge was opened. On Sunday afternoon, September 6th, the “Queen Margaret” left North Queensferry for the south bank, and then made her way to mid-stream between the two great bridges.

Here some 500 members and friends of the churches in North and South Queensferry took part in a service of worship to mark the double event – the closing of the centuries-old ferry service and the opening of the new bridge. The service was the idea of Captain R. A. Mason of the Queen Margaret.

Praise was led by the band of H.M.S. Caledonia, and the service was conducted by the Rev. A. D. Stirling, South Queensferry, and the Rev. A . J. Rhodes, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, South Queensferry, took part.

In his address, the Rev. H. J. G. Troup, North Queensferry, took a three-fold theme: :They that go down to the sea in ships”, “It was founded upon a rock: and ‘Each man’s work will one day be shown for what it is”.

The lessons were read by two fo the ferry captains, Mr Hugh McPherson and Mr R. A. Mason.

An interested spectator was Mr. Robert Carmichael who captained the Queen Margaret some years ago and was an elder of North Queensferry Church. He had come up from Preston specially for the event.

The service was favoured with sunshine, and a stiff breeze whipped up the waters of the Forth around the ferry and the countless yachts in attendance. Later, the ferry cruised upstream under the new bridge and then down to the railway bridge which was also lined with spectators.

Said a spectator: “It was a particularly poignant moment for many of us. The chapter that had covered so many hundreds of years was closed. A new chapter was opening.”

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