Correspondence on ‘Kilts v. Breeks’ Part 1 (December and January 1891-1892)

In ‘The People’s Journal’ for the 5th December 1891, an article was publish reporting on a plan to merge the Queen’s Own Cameron (79th) Highlanders with the Scots Guards and in consequence replace their kilts with breeks. The exploits of the Highland Regiments of the British Army had become one of the most important outlets for Scottish national pride. The thin red line at Balaclava, Waterloo and many other world famous battles amplified the image of Scots as a warrior people, and it was the kilted regiments portrayed in paintings and verse which made them distinct from the other nations of the British isles (especially the English). This potential de-kilting of the Cameron Highlanders also came at a time when modern Scottish nationalism was being born as calls for Home Rule intensified. All this made the proposal to remove the kilt, this great symbol of Scottish prestige, a contentious issue with readers. The paper received months worth of correspondence, some tongue-in-cheek, others apparently with a surprising amount of vitriol. The arguments for and against the kilt presented by readers gives a brilliant insight into how late 19th century Scots saw themselves, or at least how they hoped Scotland was viewed internationally.

5th December 1891

The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and the Tartan. A Protest.

[By a Special Correspondent.]

Again the War Office is ruffling the temper of the Camerons. It is proposed to link the old 79th to the Scots Guards, and to abolish the kilt! “The bodies wi’ the breeks” was a satirical impromptu played by Glenorchy’s piper, Findlay M’Ivor, at the battle of Altimarlach, by which he expressed the kilted Argyllshire men’s contempt for the trousers men of Caithness. And now the War Office, in the face of all tradition, experience, sound advice, and right feeling, proposes to reduce one of the most distinguished of our kilted regiments to the ignominious position of being were “bodies wi’ the breeks!” Will the Camerons tamely submit to the change if t is attempted to be forced upon them? We should hardly think so. Ought they to do so? Certainly not. Far be it from us to say a word against the gallant corps—the Scots Guards—to which it is proposed they should be linked, but the step would mean a humbling of justifiable Highland pride, a suppression of a glorious individuality, and a disregard for traditions that have inspired to victory on many a red-dyed field. It is time the country raised its voice against this wanton pottering and tinkering on the part of the War Office. It is good neither for the country nor the army. The complaint is raised that recruiting is going down. Little wonder. For a dozen men, in the Highlands at least, who would willingly range themselves under the colours of the 79th, there are probably not two who would become members of a corps vaguely described as the “Third Battalion of the Scots Guards.” …

J.C.

 

12th December 1891

Kilts or Breeks?

Sir,—Will you kindly allow me space in your valuable paper? I am sorry to read in the People’s Journal of the 5th inst. That it is proposed to link the old gallant 79th Highlanders to the Scots Guards, and to abolish the kilt. Surely never! The Commander-in-Chief had better think twice before he attempts to commit such a rash act. If he does abolish the kilt, he will ruffle the temper of all true-hearted Highlanders. It is a true saying that

Satan finds some mischief still

For idle hands to do,

and certainly it will be a daring mischief to begin tinkering and pottering with Highland regiments. The fact of the matter is the English don’t know what to scheme to over-ride everything Scotch. Were it not for the Highlanders Scotland would have been unheard of at Waterloo, Corunna, or Balaclava, as at Trafalgar or Aboukir. There were Lowland regiments at these battles, but John Bull has pocketed all the glory for them. The 79th Highlanders is the most national of all the Highland regiments. Wake up, Cameron men! Don’t be trampled on in this way.—I am, &c.,

An Old 79ther. Barnet, Herts, 1891.

 

2nd January 1892

The Kilt Denounced.

Sir,—I am surprised that any of your intelligent correspondents should be so far left to themselves as to say anything in favour of that trashy thing they call a kilty dress. All honour to our brave and heroic men who have rendered so much valuable service to Queen and country, but what on earth hae this contemptible thing got to do with it? Nothing more than my granny’s petticoats. Indeed, to me the kilt is well worthy the name of any asylum deserter, or some simpleton who has got a piece of tomfoolery to perform at a puppet show; no doubt the silly kilt might add to the fun considerably. But worse still when we see an old fool strutting along our streets exhibiting his rheumatic knees. We wonder whether he is compos mentis or not. Awake, ye mothers, wives, and sisters, and help us to get this weak-minded rag of a thing banished from the face of the earth, and you will greatly oblige

Hersel’.

 

9th January 1892

The Kilt Defended.

Sir,—I reply to the letter which appeared in your last issue denouncing the kilt, will you kindly allow me space in your valuable paper for these few words in defence of the garb of Old Gaul? The kilt is and was the Highlander’s dress in the North of Scotland until a number of years back. But now I see it condemned by “Hersel’” just as if it was an old useless hencoop lying on a dung heap. He, or she, never saw a right kilt on a fool. His uniform would look more like a woman’s petticoat than a kilt. The noblest dress a person can put on is the kilt, or the Highlander’s dress. Who, then, is the kilt’s enemy? Is it the trousers? No. Is it the breeches? No. Who is it then? He who does not know anything about a kilt or its style.—I am, &c.,

Geo. M’Phee. Bridgepark, Muir of Ord, 2nd Jan. 1892.

 

16 January 1892

Kilt v. Breeks.

The Kilt Defended.

Sir,—“Hersel’” must be a right down ignoramus, and surely knows nothing about the kilt dress, or else he would be aware of the fact that when the legs are bare from infancy and exposed to all kinds of weather their muscles are developed and hardened; and moreover, in consequence of the lower part of the body being exposed the whole body is better able to withstand the cold and the inclemency of the weather than one whose trunk and muscles have been wrapped from his childhood in perhaps 2 ins. thick  of the stuff which “Hersel’” grannie’s petticoats were made of. If “Hersel’” is an Englishman, I do not wonder at him calling the kilt a trashy thing, for the simple reason, many of his forefathers quaked on seeing 4 ins. square of the tartan kilt. And if he is a Scot, which I hope he is not, I am bewildered at the insulting tone of his epistle, and would earnestly request him to keep within the shade of his grannie’s petticoats, of which, I have no doubt, he knows more than of the good old Highland garb, which I and every true Scotsman should wear with pride.—I am, &c.,

J. T. Henderson.

 

Sir,—In the last week’s Journal “Hersel’” has exploded with hatred to the kilt. Such rotten ideas will, I fancy, not get much support North of the Tweed. It is impossible to tell from the signature whether “Hersel’” is a male or a female or a hermaphrodite; but one thing apparent to all your readers is that “Hersel’” has spindle shanks or “scabbit” knees, or some other physical defect which “Hersel’” wishes to hide inside her “trooser.” “Facts are chiels that winna ding,” and one fact is that rheumatic knees is an unknown complaint among habitual wearers of the kilt. “Hersel’” is either joking or is greatly mortified at not being a good model for the kilt. The fable of “The fox and the grapes” can be aplied to this case especially well, I think.—I am, &c.,

Callum Brogach. Kildonan, Sutherland. Continue reading “Correspondence on ‘Kilts v. Breeks’ Part 1 (December and January 1891-1892)”

Letters on ‘English’ Versus ‘British.’ (21 October – 2 December, 1882)

The following seven letters are from readers on on the interchangeable use of the words ‘British’ and ‘English’ in the English press; a form of cultural colonialism, English arrogance or ‘Cockney conceit’ as it is termed in the correspondence. These letters came in response to the coverage of the battle of Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt where Scottish and Irish representation was perceived to have been whitewashed by the press, despite the heavy involvement of the Highland regiments. The poem published on the 14th October, ‘The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir’, which sparked the discussion will also appear below.

‘England v Great Britain.’ (21 October, 1882)

Sir,—I was highly delighted with G. Bruce’s verses on “The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir” in your issue of the People’s Journal of 14th October. The words in the sixth verse struck me as strictly true, and I am happy to know that “G.B.” is not the only one in Scotland that holds the same opinion.

“England stole Great Britain’s name—

Tries to hide auld Scotland’s fame—

What she does is burning shame!

Anglo-Saxon guile!”

Now I have observed in English newspapers (especially London) when they have described any battle where British were engaged, they would use the words “English Army”—”English Navy.” when the proper words should be “British Army”—”British Navy.” England is only a part of this Great Empire as Scotland and Ireland, the three together being designated by Act of Parliament as “Great Britain and Ireland,” and it is hardly fair that the word “English” should be used when the soldiers and sailors engaged are composed of men recruited from the three countries. “Honour to whom honour is due.” I know for a fact that Scotchmen and Irishmen do not like to be called “English,” and I say the sooner that Cockney ignorance and conceit (as I believe it is from that source it springs) should cease from doing so the better, as it may lead the Scotch people to be discontented with their English neighbours, and be a greater thorn in their path than the Irish. I have enjoyed many a hearty laugh when reading in some English newspaper a paragraph describing a battle when it speaks about the troops engaged—one line calling them “English troops,” and the very next line speaking of them as “British troops.” This arises from Cockney ignorance and conceit, and reminds me of the Cockney I made acquaintance with on board of the steamer from London to Leith about four years ago, who asked me the very intelligent question, viz.—”Did I know one David Wright, a butcher in Scotland?” I have no doubt some will say—Bah! it is hardly worth while taking notice of such things; let Johnny Bull, Sandy, and Paddy be called by any name, it is all the same to me, &c., &c. Now I call these men unpatriotic, and no lovers of their country. There was a time when such men were expelled from their country.—I am, &c.,

Thomas Turner.

3 East Register Street, Edinburgh,

16th October 1882.

 

‘England v Great Britain’ (4 November, 1882)

“A.A.C.,” London, writes:—I have a grievance. Mr Thomas Turner’s scathing denunciation of those who deem it a small matter whether the representative appellation “Englishman” be applied to any native of our mighty isle or not has aroused my Highland blood, and I thirst for an opportunity to prove my patriotism and love of my country—Scotland. True, I no longer enjoy the privilege of breathing my native air; yet I am a “Scottie” still, and in many a wordy war have I defended Scotland’s prestige and fought for her honour, and I hope to do so again. Cockneys are conceited, and have good reason to be so, but they are not so amazingly ignorant as Mr Turner supposed. Journalists are, as a rule, men of extensive information and considerable tact. Cockney journalists are men to be envied for these qualities, and if they use the term “English troops” in one line and “British troops” in the next that scarcely proves their ignorance. There was a time, sir, when I held an opinion similar to that of Mr Geo. Bruce—a gentleman I used to know well—and that of Mr Turner. I even went the length of spoiling a well-thumbed history by drawing a fierce red dash through the word “English” and inserting “British” in glowing capitals when I fancied that the claims of Scotia’s sons were overlooked, but a sojourn in the “boasted city of the world” has toned down and modified my opinion. I once had the temerity to ask an Englishman who occasionally contributes to Cockney journalism what was meant by using the word “English” when “British” was clearly the term that ought to be employed. His answer was—”My dear sir, you ought to know better than to suppose for an instant that any slight is intended to your country, or rather you part o the country. Why, it is one of the brightest gems in the British Crown. Do not harbour such feelings against us. We admire Scotland, and respect her traditions, while we welcome her sons with open arms. It was a red-letter day in history when England and Scotland joined hands, and if we say ‘England’ when we mean both, or Ireland also, it is because it comes more readily to our lips. Our ideas are not bounded by the Cheviots and the Tweed when we say ‘England’ or ‘English interests;’ and although it is a standing joke with us to twit Scotchmen about the unimportance of Scotland, it is only when we find them so amusingly verdant or jealous as to imagine we do not recognise its worth. We would be deceiving ourselves were we to suppose that Scotchmen have not had more than their share in making England what it is. They sit in our high places, they conduct our business and commerce, and in fighting they are the rampant lion in our flag.” Scotchmen are “billies” to make themselves at home wherever they go, and I firmly believe that the natives of no country carry with them such a patriotic love as Scotchmen do. The age of variance between the two countries, however, is over—they are one now—and to have their merits recognised Scotchmen must not be bigoted. It occasionally happens that men of the Dr Johnson type are encountered, who reproduce that worthy’s hatred of everything Scotch; but the are to be pitied, and I for one smile calmly and serenely when I stumble into their company, and I rest assured that the majority of even Cockneys show, by their ready appreciation of Scotchmen, that belief in Scotland is the hotbed of reliable supporters of Great Britain’s celebrity. I admit that a few ignorant Cockneys cherish the idea that until Scotchmen cross the Borders they are a race of semi-savages who wear kilts, and that until they get their intellects stuck into chimney-pot hats are air them in a London fog, they are mere nobodies; but ignorance of this type must die out under the auspices of the School Boards. Continue reading “Letters on ‘English’ Versus ‘British.’ (21 October – 2 December, 1882)”

‘Bodkin Redivivus’ (14 October, 1865)

The following letter is part of a long series by Tammas Bodkin, the character used by editor William D. Latto to speak frankly (and amusingly) on current affairs. Latto became editor of the ‘People’s Journal’ in December 1860 and used the platform to launch Tammas, bringing himself a fair amount of fame in Victorian Scotland. Below the letter will be a verse submitted by a reader about his four month absence.

Maister Editor,—Durin’ the four months that I’ve been haudin’ my tongue I’ve noticed sundry individuals makin’ a bauchle o’ my name an’ fair fame—twa o’ them even gaun the length o’ wreatin’ sangs aboot my silence, an’ insiniwatin’ that I behooved to be on the spree or engaged in some ither equally unwarrantable operation—an’ ane o’ them, in plain prose, blamin’ me for a want o’ consideration for the comfort an’ requirements o’ his “inner bein’.” Noo, as to the twa sangsters, I sall only say that I enterteen a geniwine contempt baith for them an’ for their sangs; an’ as for the proser, I can only advise him if his “inner bein’” is oot o’ order, to tak’ a dose o’ soothin’ medicine, an’ lie in his bed for a curn days, till sic time as he gets relief. Never havin’ studied physic, of coorse I dinna pretend to prescribe for the “inner bein’” in an authoritative manner, an’ therefore he may either tak’ my advice or lat it alane, as he may feed inclined, but if he choose the latter alternative, an’ ony evil consequences follow, he will hae himsel’ to blame, As regards my ancestry, I beg to refer the reader to the volume I published a year or twa syne, [‘Tammas Bodkin, or the Humours of a Scottish Tailor’] wherein my lineage was traced to a very ancient, if not to a very honourable origin, but I am obliged to own that I canna coont St Columba amang my forbears. The only Saint that ever flourished on my family tree was a certain St Snip, wha lived—I sanna say hoo mony centuries back, for if I were to condescend on dates, folk wad be apt to say I was leein’.

I dinna doot but some o’ thae chields wha hae been sclawryin’ my name an’ reputation were very curious to ken hoo my wreatin’s had ceased in a manner sae sudden an’ unaccoontable to appear in your columns, an’ if they had speered the reason why—wi’ a due regaird to the rules o’ good breedin’, eckcettery—I micht hae been prevailed upon to mak’ them as wise as I am mysel’, but seein’ that they hae chairged me wi’ drunkenness, wi’ a disregaird to their “inner bein’,” an’ wi’ a descent frae St Columba, foul fa’ me if I mak’ them a bit wiser on that head. That I was at Peterhead seein’ the launch o’ the “Lifeboat No. 1” I winna seek to deny, but that I got mysel’ fou on that occasion as has been insiniwated or that I misconduckit mysel’ in ony shape, manner, or respect whatsomever, is what I will daur ony man or woman wha has the slichtest regard to truth an’ verity to affirm. Yes I was at Peterhead seein the lifeboat launched, an’ a grand sicht it was; an’ I may state, mair an’ further, that I intend to gang to Arbraoth an’ see the ither ane launched likewise, provided I live lang eneugh; but if the sons o’ St Tammas gang on dilly-dallyin’ as they’ve been doin’ a’ the simmer, an’ dinna get on wi’ the biggin’ o’ the boat-house some faster, I muckle dreed the launchin’ will hae to be put aff till a future generation, an’ then I’ll no see’t. But I maun yoke to the real business on hand, or else a rebellion in your “inner bein’” will be the dreadfu’ consequence, an’ therefore, withoot farther preface or explanation, I sall proceed to gather up the threed o’ the narrative at the spot where it parted sae suddently when I was payin’ it out in the month of June last. Continue reading “‘Bodkin Redivivus’ (14 October, 1865)”

Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 6: ‘The Tay Bridge’ (4 September, 1880)

On the 28 December 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge designed by Thomas Bouch collapsed in a terrible storm. The disaster claimed the lives of all 75 passengers (although only 60 bodies were found). Naturally the tragedy featured heavily in ‘The People’s Journal’ and large features on the inquests were regularly found in the paper throughout 1880. Amongst the reporting there were also letters from readers published about the events.

 

Sir,—I have read all that has been printed in your paper about the unfortunate Tay Bridge, and have paid attention to the different plans proposed and the speeches of others who have no plans, but whose aim seems to be to pull the thing to pieces.

I am not aware of any one proposing to sink a new pier outside of each of the old ones, if the old ones are faulty, which I don’t believe. I think when those girders fell with the train in them the piers got such a test as I hope they never will again. The leverage was something awful. When they stood that I think it was proof enough, but by sinking a new pier outside of each old one they may go any depth they please and make sure of the outside being right. If there should be anything wrong let them sheet-pile it where the dotted lines are and fill with concrete. I don’t think many will want it. The foundations, I believe, are a good job, but the columns and girders have been shameful. They talked of an unholy alliance. What gentleman builds an addition to his house by first pulling down the old one? Who mends an old coat with an old rag? Such trash carried weight before the Committee.—I am, &c.,

Torbain, Kirkcaldy. W. Johnstone.

Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 5: ‘The Tay Bridge Report—Mr Rothery and his Colleagues’ (17 July, 1880)

On the 28 December 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge designed by Thomas Bouch collapsed in a terrible storm. The disaster claimed the lives of all 75 passengers (although only 60 bodies were found). Naturally the tragedy featured heavily in ‘The People’s Journal’ and large features on the inquests were regularly found in the paper throughout 1880. Amongst the reporting there were also letters from readers published about the events. This collection of letters sent by the solicitors of Bouch to ‘The People’s Journal’ throw doubt on the operation of the inquiry surrounding their client. Thomas Bouch’s reputation as one of the worlds leading engineers was ruined by Tay Rail Bridge. He would die on 30 October 1880, less than a year after the disaster.

 

Sir,—We beg to send you copy of a correspondence which we, as solicitors for Sir Thomas Bouch, have had with Colonel Yolland and Mr Barlow, two of the members of the Court of Inquiry on the Tay Bridge disaster, in reference to the separate Report made by their colleague, Mr Rothery, to the Board of Trade. We shall feel obliged by your giving publicity to this correspondence, on which it is unnecessary for us to comment, as it speaks for itself.—We are, &c.,

A.J. & J. Dickson.

2 Queen Street, Edinburgh,

14th July 1880.

 

1. Letter—Messrs A.J. & J. Dickson, W.S., Edinburgh, to Colonel Yolland, R.E., Board of Trade.

Edinburgh, 9th July 1880.

Sir,—On perusing Mr Rothery’s Report, we find that it contains several most injurious (and, as we think, unjust) statements and charges reflecting on Sir Thomas Bouch, which appear to us to be inconsistent with the opinions and findings contained in the Joint Report of yourself and Mr Barlow, and which certainly are not countenanced by anything therein contained. Had these statements and charges been put forward simply as the opinions of Mr Rothery alone we should have said nothing, but Mr Rothery, at §137 of his Report, makes the following statement:—“The points on which we are not agreed are as to whether some facts which have come out in the course of the inquiry ought or ought not to be mentioned,” thereby implying, that you agree with him as to the truth of the facts. Again, at §142 Mr Rothery implies that you concur in the justice of his censures, although not thinking it your duty to say so. And in the closing words of his Report Mr Rothery states explicitly—“Although my colleagues have not thought fit to join in this Report they do not differ, except perhaps on very minor points, from the conclusions at which I have arrived.”

It is manifest that Mr Rothery has thereby represented that all the findings and censures of his Report, with some very minor exceptions, are concurred in by yourself and Mr Barlow, and entitled to the great additional weight which such concurrence would necessarily give. Continue reading “Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 5: ‘The Tay Bridge Report—Mr Rothery and his Colleagues’ (17 July, 1880)”

Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 4: ‘Proposed Reconstruction of the Tay Bridge’ (20 March, 1880)

On the 28 December 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge designed by Thomas Bouch collapsed in a terrible storm. The disaster claimed the lives of all 75 passengers (although only 60 bodies were found). Naturally the tragedy featured heavily in ‘The People’s Journal’ and large features on the inquests were regularly found in the paper throughout 1880. Amongst the reporting there were also letters from readers published about the events. In this letter John Roy, an engineer and architect in the United States gives his view on the reasons behind the bridge’s failure, and how it should be rebuilt.

 

Sir,—Pardon me for intruding upon you in the hour of your calamity. A friend sent me copies of your valuable Journal of the 10th, 17th, and 24th of January 1880, giving an account of the loss of life and destruction of the Tay Bridge at 7.16 P.M., December 28th, 1879.

The evidence shows the gale was unprecedented in that part of the world. Capt. Scott says, “In the gusts it came as high as 11, and at the time the wind was almost due west, directly at right angles to the high girders.” Eleven inches of water is equal to a pressure upon a square foot of 57 1/4 pounds, under which the wind travels 107 miles per hour. In this country the wind often blows so as a man cannot stand before it. On Mount Washington, in the State of New Hampshire, January 1878, the velocity of the wind was over 100 miles an hour during nine different days, but the highest registered is:—

November 29th, 1875 6 P.M. velocity, 170 miles per hour
December 13th, 1875 do. do. 108 do.
January — 1876 do. do. 132 do.
February 24th, 1876 do. do. 163 do.
March 22d, 1876 do. do. 100 do.
May 1st, 1876 do. do. 108 do.

From the testimony of Captain Scott I infer that no long, high, and light iron bridge with a single track ought to be built at right angles to the prevailing winds and sea in an exposed position like that of the Tay Bridge. Had the Tay Bridge been built on a curve to the west, the girders forming a polygon, only one girder would be exposed at right angles to any wind, and the two adjoining girders would form a strut or tie to the strained girder; this would form an arch against the west wind and sea, and a suspension bridge to resist eastern storms. The strength of such a bridge would be in proportion to the length of the versed sign of the segment, the tensile and compressive force of the iron would be brought into action in a more favourable manner, and much of the cross or transverse strain avoided. A long train would add to its lateral strength as a brace and poise The train itself forming part of a curve, the leverage of its wheel base would be increased in proportion to the length of the versed sign of the segment. Continue reading “Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 4: ‘Proposed Reconstruction of the Tay Bridge’ (20 March, 1880)”

Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 3: ‘The Tay Bridge of the Past and Future’ (31 January, 1880)

On the 28 December 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge designed by Thomas Bouch collapsed in a terrible storm. The disaster claimed the lives of all 75 passengers (although only 60 bodies were found). Naturally the tragedy featured heavily in ‘The People’s Journal’ and large features on the inquests were regularly found in the paper throughout 1880. Amongst the reporting there were also letters from readers published about the events. In this letter William Leslie from Alyth dismisses some of the previous letters to the paper about the bridge’s faults. There is also a note from a correspondent from Derbyshire who decries the cheapness of the materials used.

 

Sir,—I have read with much interest all the various letters on the above subject which have lately appeared in your paper, some of these written by more indignant than experienced persons. One correspondent writes—”No doubt the weakness of the Bridge was its length.” There, I may say, he is decidedly under a mistake, for the Bridge was designed so as to be equally strong between any two of the highest pillars as between the first pillar and the land, and if these pillars were to blame the error lay in the calculation of their strength and not in the length of the Bridge. Another says that, “seeing the iron pillars were tubular and filled with cement, perhaps water had got into them, and when the frosty weather came the water expanded and the iron contracted, so damaging the pillars.” This is right so far, although no water could have got into these pillars. Nevertheless, seeing firmed cement has no yield, the contraction of these pillars should have been provided against. This could easily have been done by putting between the cement and the pillars oneply of ordinary pipe bagging. Another condemns the Bridge at once as “a wind trap,” and tries to make out that the lattice girders strain the supporting piers greater than the plates. In support of his theory he says—”Had the side of the Bridge presented a solid body to the wind the current would have divided before it reached the Bridge, and passed above and underneath it.” Now, if this was the case, bridges built on the solid or plated design (such as tubular bridges) would require no extra support to provide against oscillation, and would be recommended above all others. But such is not the case. Although the Bridge had presented a solid body to the wind, and divided the current into two parts, the space between the currents was not a vacuum, but compressed air equal in strength to the passing currents, and the stronger these currents grew the lesser grew this space, and the greater the pressure against the side of the Bridge. The lattice girder prevented this pressure, was equal to any other pattern in strength, superior in beauty, and I believe inferior in price. Yet, for one fault, I would condemn the bare lattice girder, that fault being the want of protection to the passing train from the wind. I believe this will be one of the most difficult points to settle in the reconstruction of the Bridge. Although no carriage was ever proved to be overturned by the wind, yet it would be well to provide against it, seeing the wind once before blew one of these girders—far heavier than any carriage—from the top of the Bridge into the river. As to the question of rebuilt, continuing the levels where the Bridge is broken. This would only lower the shipping height some twelve or fifteen feet, to which the town of Perth could not reasonably object, as it would not lessen their shipping interest nor diminish their traffic. Yet it would not be commendable to allow the North British Railway Company to run passenger trains across the Bridge until another line of rails was added, b a new Bridge built alongside the present one and firmly connected with it, both having supports slanting out into the river as far as the fallen engine lies from the base of the upright piers, thus forming a bridge that would meet the demands of the public, and on which the most timid passengers could safely venture.—I am &c.,

Cumno, Alyth. Wm. Leslie. Continue reading “Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 3: ‘The Tay Bridge of the Past and Future’ (31 January, 1880)”