It’s been an interesting few months weatherwise in this part of the world, and that had a knock on effect on travel for the poor beleaguered commuter.
In this part of Scotland we had an extra treat – the temporary closure of the Forth Road Bridge, causing a knock -on effect for travellers right throughout the Forth Valley. The Bridge, not to put too fine a point on it, was cracking under the pressure. Commuters were adding up to fifty miles on to their journeys as they re- routed to the alternative bridges.
Now one idea that was put forward was to run a ferry service. The Forth has a grand tradition of ferries dating back to the 11 th century, when pilgrims crossed from Edinburgh to continue their journey to Dunfermline to St Andrews. I got to thinking, wouldn’ t it be nice to ‘ reopen the shipyards’ as the old song says? Or at least if we’ re not building them, buy the things and sail on them? With this in mind I did a wee sketch,
It’s a pen and ink showing a ferry by the Forth Rail Bridge. Improved road crossings in the twentieth century brought an end to the majority of ferry services on the Forth. Yet this was a river which once crawled with boats – ferries, fishing boats, oil tankers, merchant ships. It was not a barrier obstructing travel but a gateway, a frontier. Yes, it defended us, proved a challenge to invading armies, but it also gave us a key to the world. Its presence allowed our communities to prosper.
Yet over the last half century we have become detached from our river. Here in the Inner Forth area our fishing industry is all but dead and many of our harbours long gone. Maybe it’ s time to reconnect with that distant, shimmering, dangerous, murky, beautiful river. Train captains, build the boats. Give people the skills to negotiate the deadly yet vital river. Make it our ally again.
We are an island people, let us go back to the water.
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