Forth Railway Bridge magic lantern slides

This magic lantern slide is, in my view, very special. It was taken during the construction of the Forth Railway Bridge near Edinburgh in the late 1880s, by George Washington Wilson.

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Two of our finest (and competing) Victorian photographers, Wilson and James Valentine, captured the building of the bridge from its start in 1883 to completion in 1890. Neither of them was the ‘official’ photographer for the project but both produced sets of lantern slides with a reading (script) which they sold to the public through their lantern slide retail businesses. I have both sets of slides in my archive, thirty five in total, including a very long panoramic one of the finished bridge and have used them to write a booklet about how the bridge was built. These slides are a high resolution (in today’s terminology), pin sharp, beautifully composed record of what was then, and still is, a remarkable piece of Victorian engineering. This slide can still make an audience gasp in amazement at the size and grandeur of the structure. Over fifty men died during the construction of the bridge, which had a lot to do with the lack of a health and safety culture and, in particular, hard hats!

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