Forth Road Bridge 1964

Forth Road Bridge 1964

© Stevie Spiers

The Bridge

During the 1950s, Freeman Fox was engaged to act as consulting engineers for the proposed Forth Road Bridge crossing in Scotland. Bill redesigned original plans for the bridge’s towers to incorporate Freeman Fox’s most recent research into new techniques for welded plate construction. His designs meant that the towers ended up weighing around 30% less than those of a more traditional design, which saved costs through reducing the amount of steel required.

The Forth Road Bridge was a 1,006-metre span, trussed-deck suspension bridge – the first major example outside America to be constructed after the Second World War. Freeman Fox worked jointly as consulting engineers with another British consulting engineering firm, Mott, Hay and Anderson (now known as Mott Macdonald). Freeman Fox oversaw the bridge’s superstructure, while the other firm concentrated on the foundations and anchorages.

The Forth Road Bridge Finished
On its completion in September 1964, the bridge over the Firth of Forth was the longest-span suspension bridge in Europe, and the fourth longest in the world. It stretched a total length of 2,515 metres, including the approach viaducts.

Forth Road Bridge

Europe's longest suspended span on completion

Key Facts

4-lane road bridge

Considerably lighter and economical than other bridges at the time.


Queensferry, Edinburgh, Scotland

Across the Firth of Forth

Designers / Engineers

Dr William (Bill) Brown

Freeman Fox & Partners

Sir Gilbert Roberts

Mott, Hay, Anderson


Suspension bridge

1,006m main span

1,824m total length

Main contractors

Reed and Mallik

Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd.

Dorman, Long and Co. Ltd.

Sir William Arrol & Co.


Began in 1958

Opened 4 September 1964

The Bridge Deck Design

Designs were based largely on contemporary American bridges, including the Golden Gate, George Washington and Verrazzano Narrows. It was a traditional lattice-deck design, but the updated engineering techniques pioneered by Gilbert Roberts, Bill Brown and the Freeman Fox team made it far lighter and more economical than any other bridge at the time.

The complex trusses used on the Forth Road Bridge, and earlier American bridges, were soon to be superseded by Bill Brown’s design for a streamlined box bridge deck. This was used for the first time on the Severn Bridge.

Lattice Truss Deck Design

Forth Bridge lattice truss deck

Other long-span bridges