This paper throws new light on the collapse of the first Tay rail bridge in Scotland in 1879, which exposed a major weakness in British civil engineering at that time. Although American and French engineers were using significant wind loadings, few British engineers even considered them. The paper is based on a recent three-dimensional computer analysis, using a modern approach to wind loading. A linear elastic frame model of a navigation span pier was developed. Fully fixed column bases were assumed, except where uplift was simulated. CP3, the British standard for wind loading, was applied. The main variables considered in the analysis were: (1) wind velocity; (2) whether or not a train was on the bridge; (3) tensile failure of the column baseplate bolts; (4) uplift of the windward columns base; and (5) bracing strength. The model provides a scenario for the bridge collapse, which agrees with pictorial records of the actual collapse and evidence given at its inquiry. The paper's findings do not provide a definite explanation of the collapse, but they indicate the potential consequences of design errors. Many lessons were learned after the disaster, and applied to subsequent British bridge designs.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Thomas Telford Limited

    London,   United Kingdom 
  • Authors:
    • MARTIN, T
    • MACLEOD, I A
  • Publication Date: 1995-6


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00713413
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Nov 22 1995 12:00AM