Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

'It was quite a long way down'

George Rankine Image copyright George Rankine
Image caption George Rankine walked across the mesh walkways to both towers on the Forth Road Bridge

George Rankine was 19 when he walked across the Forth Road Bridge before the road was built.

The 74-year-old was a student in Edinburgh when his friend, who had a summer job at the bridge, asked his supervisor if they could walk over a mesh catwalk before it was removed.

His boss pointed across the walkway and said: "Off you go then".

It was 1962 and the pair were not wearing helmets, yellow vests or harnesses.

Mr Rankine, who lives in Crossford, Fife, was also one of the first people to drive across the Forth Road Bridge once the road had been built 53 years ago.

The bridge is now being replaced by the new Queensferry Crossing, and Mr Rankine managed to become one of the first to drive across that too at 03:00 on Wednesday.

He was also "delighted" to win tickets in the ballot to walk across it on Saturday.

Image copyright George Rankine
Image caption George Rankine took pictures from walkways in between the middle of the towers
Image copyright Other
Image caption George Rankine said he was delighted to win tickets in the ballot to walk across the Queensferry Crossing

Speaking about his experience as a student, Mr Rankine told the BBC Scotland news website: "You wouldn't get to do something like that now without all the health and safety trimmings.

"It was a Saturday morning and my friend's boss just pointed over the mesh and said 'Off you go then' and off the three of us went."

They started on the Edinburgh side and walked up to the first tower, before going up to the north tower then along the walkways joining the towers.

Image copyright GEORGE RANKINE
Image caption George Rankine visited the Queensferry Crossing on the night it opened to traffic

"All you could see was the water when you looked down through the mesh, it was quite a long way down," Mr Rankine said.

"I wasn't scared though because we were used to climbing and it wasn't a windy day.

"We spent all morning walking across and back and taking pictures."

Speaking about being selected to walk across the bridge on Saturday, he said: "My wife and I were in Zimbabwe when the ballot opened and could only find wifi at Victoria Falls so we made the application there and were absolutely delighted that we got tickets to walk across.

"It's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we will be taking lots of pictures."

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