Scotland’s iconic Forth Bridge has been put forward as the UK's latest nomination for World Heritage status.
Scotland is home to five of the 28 UK World Heritage sites, including the island of St Kilda and Edinburgh's Old and New Towns, and the distinctive red railway structure linking Edinburgh and Fife could now also join a select group of sites across the world including the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge if the bid is successful.
The 124-year-old bridge carries trains more than a mile and a half across the Firth of Forth and was the first major British construction to be made of steel. At the peak of construction more than 4,500 workers laboured on it.
The bridge has been nominated by UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller and the bid will now be considered by the Unesco World Heritage Committee.
"World heritage sites attract tourists from all over the world and Britain has some extraordinary places that have yet to be recognised by Unesco,” said Miller. "If the Forth Bridge bid is successful in achieving such prestigious international recognition, then Britain will have yet another iconic place by which to attract tourists to our shores."
Even today the cantilever bridge is seen as an engineering marvel. The three great four-tower cantilever structures are 100.6m tall, each tower resting on a separate granite pier, and the weight of the bridge superstructure is 51,324 tonnes, which includes the six and a half million rivets used in construction.
Preparation for the bid was overseen by the Forth Bridge World Heritage Steering Group of the Forth Bridges Forum, which includes numerous partners in the area surrounding the bridge. Unesco is expected to make a final decision on the nomination next year.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "The Forth Bridge is an excellent example of the UK's rich culture and heritage and proudly symbolises Scotland's place in the world as pioneers of construction.
"Inscription as a World Heritage site is an important accolade, achieving this recognition will be tremendous news for Scotland and a fitting tribute to all of the people who have contributed to the building, maintenance and restoration of the bridge in its 124-year history."
Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "The Forth Bridge is an iconic symbol of technical creativity and engineering excellence.
"As one of the world's most recognisable landmarks the bridge not only connects communities in a practical sense, but also connects those who admire its design with Scotland's proud industrial and cultural heritage."