On this day: 18th August 1966, the Tay Road Bridge opened linking Dundee city centre with Fife. Thousands attended the official opening by the Queen Mother. A 50 ft (15 m) tall commemorative obelisk stands at the Newport side, with a smaller memorial obelisk at the Dundee side, to commemorate the six men who died in construction of the bridge. Both of these obelisks are designed as the piers of the bridge, each representing the height of the piers at that end of the bridge. 26,000 vehicles travel the bridge every day and it is also one of the longest road bridges in Europe.
The last passenger and vehicle ferries service (“Fifies”) ran its last voyage on the very day the bridge opened. The Fifies operated across the River Tay between Craig Pier, Dundee and Newport-on-Tay, Fife. Forfarshire (1863 – 1893), PS Dundee (1875 – 1917), Fifeshire (1859 – 1929), Newport (1910 – 1939), Sir William High (1924 – 1951), BL Nairn (1929 – 1966), Abercraig (1939 -1966) and Scotscraig (1951-1969) paddle steamers operated on the river. PS Dolphin (1893-1920) ran from Tayport to Broughty Ferry. The opening of the road bridge would also lead to the closure of the railway line from Tayport to Dundee in 1969.
In more recent times, Bertie the bull escaped from Market Mews in July 2000 (in the vicinity of what later became DMofT) and ran across the road bridge. “They nicknamed it Houdini because it escaped over a six-foot wall,” said Jim McDonald (bridge supervisor for 34 years).
There is a display in hall one of the museum with lots of information and photographs of the Tay Road Bridge.
You can view a film of the building of the bridge on the National Library of Scotland website https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/2243 and find out more on the Tay Road Bridge website https://www.tayroadbridge.co.uk/
Thanks to Euan Derrick for the article.
Edited by Samantha Walker