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Inverness writer ends Forth Bridge residency with new book

By Margaret Chrystall

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Inverness writer Barbara Henderson ends her year as writer in residence at the Forth Bridge with a new book celebrating the A to Z of people whose lives and work are shaped by the iconic structure.

Barbara Henderson's new book Made From Girders.
Barbara Henderson's new book Made From Girders.

Made From Girders is a collection of personal stories from the men and women who live and work across the span the red steel bridge spanning the Forth.

Engineers, environmentalists, managers, model makers, construction workers, campaigners, tour guides and train drivers Barbara has talked to for the book and their portraits are captured by photographer Alan McCredie.

Barbara said: "I wanted to find a varied group of people to speak to and each chapter, from A to Z, features an interesting individual with unique insights into the world of the Forth Bridge in its widest sense.

"Alan McCredie's stunning photography complements my writing."

Barbara Henderson under the Forth Bridge meeting photographer Alan McCredie - who worked with her on latest book Made From Girders.
Barbara Henderson under the Forth Bridge meeting photographer Alan McCredie - who worked with her on latest book Made From Girders.

Barbara's year started off with the publication of her first book about the bridge – Rivet Boy written for young readers and which tells the story of .

The book is now being studied in schools.

"It's done really well," Barbara said. "And it has already gone for reprint – I'm very lucky."

Barbara Henderson's Rivet Boy steps back in time

Inverness author becomes Forth Bridge's first writer in residence

Living in Inverness has meant Barbara has done a lot of travelling down to Edinburgh during her year as writer in residence at the bridge, but she has enjoyed her time in the role

"I have loved lifting the curtain on some of the lesser known aspects of the iconic bridge."

Barbara Henderson beneath the bridge.
Barbara Henderson beneath the bridge.

For Made From Girders, Barbara has answered some of her own questions about the bridge: " What's it like to save lives beneath it? To promote it to tourists, create a digital model? What does it feel like to dangle on one of the suspended scaffolds on it during refurbishment? To survey the wildlife or unearth previously unseen image of its construction? To have a cardiac arrest on it? What was the process for UNESCO World Heritage? And what stories do the residents have to tell?"

Barbara has had a fascination with the bridge since she was very young and a first visit as a child before moving to Scotland permanently. She and her husband even got married there and had their wedding reception beneath it!

Will it be hard now that her residency is finished?

"I am a little sad, but also immensely proud. And with two Forth Bridge books, there will be plenty Forth Bridge events in the future."

Having played her part in contributing to the bridge's story and raising the profile of all that it is, for Scots and visitors to discover, Barbara will be moving on to her next project – a new book.

"I'm currently completing a Mary, Queen of Scots adventure to be published in spring."

Made From Girders by Barbara Henderson and Alan McCredie is £12.99 from Luath Press and out now. Rivet Boy is also available from Cranachan Books at £7.99. More on Barbara here:

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