The original Tay Rail Bridge was constructed in the 19th century by noted railway engineer Thomas Bouch (who received a knighthood following the bridge's completion). It was an advanced lattice-grid design, combining cast and wrought iron, then the state-of-the-art in bridge technology. Upon its completion in early 1879 it was the longest bridge in the world. The bridge was officially opened by Queen Victoria on June 1 of that year. That year, during a violent storm in the evening of December 28th a section of the bridge collapsed, wrecking a train which was running over its single track. 75 lives were lost, including Sir Thomas' son-in-law. Engineers quickly determined that the metal used in the bridge's design was of poor quality, and modern structural analysis of the bridge also shows its design was not sufficient to resist the strong winds commonplace in the Tay estuary.
A second rail bridge, designed by William Henry Barlow and built by William Arrol, sited 60 feet upstream, and parallel to the original bridge of which the stumps of the piers still remain. It opened on 13 July 1887. Nearly two and a quarter miles (3.5 km) long including the brick viaduct, 25,000 tons of iron and steel, 70,000 tons of concrete, ten million bricks weighing 37,500 tons and three million rivets. Fourteen men lost their lives during its construction, mostly due to drowning.
The new bridge remains in use today.