An original Victorian hydraulic riveting machine which was used in the construction of the Forth Bridge has been unveiled at the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Scotland Museum at Heriot-Watt.
The ‘portable’ riveter, which weighs a quarter of a tonne and is thought to date from around 1887, has been generously loaned by York’s National Railway Museum and specially transported to Edinburgh for display starting in the month of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge.
Insight into working methods
Professor Paul Jowitt CBE, former ICE President, past Chair of ICE Scotland and Professor of Civil Engineering Systems in Heriot-Watt’s School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS), unveiled the exhibit. He said, “The riveter makes for an iconic display, providing an instructive and exclusive insight into the extraordinary achievement of the construction of the world’s greatest bridge in 1890."
Professor Roland Paxton, Chairman of ICE Scotland Museum, added, “This magnificent structure was all the more remarkable when one considers that the execution of the Forth Bridge was by means of labour-intensive Victorian technology before the development of electricity, welding and other improvements in engineering and production techniques.”
Invented by William Arrol & Company, the riveter is believed to have been employed at the bridge using water-power to squeeze into place at ‘yellow heat’ some of its 6,500,000 rivets.
The riveter display, with an explanatory broadsheet, was fabricated at the EGIS workshop.