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The Briggers

Sue Wingrove looks at a book on the men who built the Forth Bridge

Published: October 28, 2009 at 10:21 am

Reviewed by: Sue Wingrove
Author: Elspeth Wills
Publisher: Birlinn
Price (RRP): £16.99

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 This is the story of the men who built Scotland’s Forth Bridge. Opening in 1890, it became recognised as an icon of Victorian engineering. Less well-known is the story of the thousands of men who worked on it, the briggers. Their number included wages clerks, cooks, draughtsmen, riveters (paid per rivet) and divers, who suffered from caisson disease – ‘the bends’. Also on hand were boatmen to rescue those who fell from the bridge – 73 men are known to have died during the seven years it took to build. Well illustrated with photographs, this book is a fascinating account of the men, the camps built to house them and their impact on the communities at either end of the bridge.

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Sue Wingrove is deputy editor of BBC History Magazine

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