The Forth Bridge was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee today in Bonn, Germany, making it Scotland’s 6th World Heritage Site.
Discussions started with a presentation by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) which described the situation, bridge structure and context of the bid in relation to the criteria for OUV (Outstanding Universal Value). It was proposed that the bridge be inscribed under critera (i) and (iv).
(i) “represents a masterpiece of human creative genius”
(iv) “is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history”
The bid received overwhelming support from the Committee who welcomed the inscription of the bridge as an outstanding example of engineering design. One member supported the inscription, pleased to see that it was from an under-represented category in the list. Another member referred to a 20 year old report which had drawn up a list of potential World Heritage bridges, including the Forth Bridge. There was so much praise for the bridge, it’s significance in the history of rail transport and civil engineering, and it’s aesthetic value, that there was an underlying impression that the bid for the Forth Bridge was long in coming. Many of the comments gave praise to Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker’s innovative design and also Sir William Arrol’s advanced construction techniques. These were some of the other comments on the Forth Bridge offered by the committee:
“Tall and formidable testament to the genius of man”
“A crucible for the application of new design principles in civil engineering”
“Masterpiece of civil engineering”
“Engineering wonder of the word”
“Stunning engineering marvel”
“Impressive milestone in design and construction methods”
Members of the committee also praised the quality of the nomination documents, saying how well prepared they had been, concise and convincing and to be held up as an exemplary for future bid submissions. Some concern was shown over ensuring protection of the views and of the structure itself. ICOMOS commented that a report was being mapped out for submission by 31 December 2015 which would review the immediate environs of the bridge and a radius of 20km around it. This would identify main vista points and ensure that controls were in place to favour protection of the bridge and the lines of site around these vistas.
Footage of the meeting can be found on the Records webpage of the 39th session of the Committee for Jul 5, 2015.