Battle For The North | Granta

  • Published: 06/08/2007
  • ISBN: 9781862079403
  • 135x20mm
  • 368 pages

Battle For The North

Charles McKean

The first Tay Bridge collapsed into the sea in 1879, only eighteen months after it had opened, drowning seventy-two people travelling by train to Dundee. Shock reverberated through Britain, and the public demanded answers. The bridge had been hailed as a triumph of construction, and its fall shook society’s confidence in the excellence of Victorian engineering. This epic tale of engineering follows the rise and fall of the career of engineer Thomas Bouch, ostracized from the engineering community when his bridge crashed into the Tay estuary. Charles McKean offers new conclusions about why the first Tay Bridge collapsed and tells how the Forth and Tay Bridges eventually became reality. He follows the railway battle for Scotland from 1845-95 and the people it involved: from the Victorian entrepreneurs, poets, journalists, lawyers and town councils, and the engineers, briggers, excavators and rivet boys, to the pioneering and inventive contractor William Arrol, who constructed the bridges that stand today. Meticulously researched and vividly told, Battle for the North explores the complicated reality underlying the Victorian pursuit of progress.

The triumphs and disasters of a thrilling piece of engineering history

Sunday Telegraph

Charles McKean's account of the lobbying, wrangling and financial crisis during the construction is as compelling as his account of the courtroom drama ... gripping ... a vivid account

The Times

At the core of McKean's book is how Scotland's railway network developed. It is complex and compelling, a triumph of pragmatism, technological innovation and sheer bloody-mindedness over what might have been deemed best for the common good

Sunday Herald

The Author

Charles McKean is Professor of Architectural History at Dundee University. He lives in Edinburgh.

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