The second one’s in the first picture here and it’s a Road Bridge. Referred to by some Dundonians as ‘the only time Fife’s ever looked down on Dundee’. What they mean is there’s a slight slope heading North over the Tay at this point. Now North is usually associated with er…… uphill. I think…… but then I’m unlikely to win any Orienteering Competitions!
The Tay Road Bridge was opened in 1966 and the ‘Fifie’ as the ferry was known ‘sailed into History’ – a line Sean Connery later borrowed when sounding rather like a Canadian Ice Hockey commentator in ‘The Hunt for Red October’. Then again maybe I was having another paranormal experience. My grandfather used to take me across river on ‘The Fifie’ and I regularly called him ‘Dad’ when he was nearly seventy and I was six. He got some funny looks in the late fifties though now it’s almost de rigeur for actors and rock stars.
But they did away with all this ferry boat glamour and went and built the Road Bridge in the wrong place. Too far West apparently. Right into the centre of the city like something out of a disaster movie. The Towering Neverlerno! For the Monty Python line ‘I’m a Chatered Accountant here to tell you why Chatered Accountancy isn’t Boring’ read ‘I’m a Town Planner here to tell you why Town Planning doesn’t suck!’ But of course people just got on with it and today the Dundee Waterfront Project is in the process of delivering something extraordinary with the V&A the jewel in its crown. I guess Town Planners are way better than they used to be.
And now the first bridge second! The much more famous Tay Rail Bridge is actually not as famous. That’s the first Rail Bridge which fell down. Get it? got it? good! Made famous by WT McGonnagall’s poem about the disaster which contains his best line not that that’s difficult. I refer to the ‘Silvery Tay’. My grandad as referred to above was a train driver in the era of Steam Trains and drove his train across the more solidly built Second Rail Bridge. As well as feeling safer since it was better built than the first bridge I reckon he was relieved I wasn’t around to use inaccurate forms of address. This bridge also attracted the attention of none other than a former US President and Civil War General Ulysses S Grant during a visit to the City. I very much doubt he’d have been so enamoured of the Road Bridge!
Oh and by the way there are two Chip Shops in the area named after the line from McGonnagall’s poem. You can get your fish suppers at both ends of the bridge if you want! Literary chip shops! Where else but by the Tay?