Monday 10 July 2023


Today Tim and I left the boat in Tayport and took the bus the few miles to Dundee. There is lots to see there. We went to see HMS Unicorn as Tim has been involved in consultancy work concerning her preservation.
The Unicorn is a unique survivor. Built for the Royal Navy as a wooden frigate in 1824, she was never used. On completion she was roofed over to keep the rain out  and stored afloat so if needed she could be put into service at short notice. This never happened and she was soon made obsolete by the coming of steam power.  She has a number of interesting features, including iron diagonal straps that were used to reinforce the later wooden warships. She is afloat in a dock near the city centre, and is looked after by a passionate team of volunteers. The pictures show her afloat and still roofed over, the gun deck, and an internal view of her bilges which I thought were surprisingly dry considering her age. The diagonal iron straps can be seen in the view of the bilges.
This is a view of the rail bridge over the river Tay, opened in 1887 By each of the bridge supports there is the stump of a support from a previous bridge. This was the rail bridge which partially collapsed in 1879 while a passenger train was going over it during a December storm. The bridge was less than a year old at the time. The subsequent enquiry found poor design, poor quality control and poor maintenance were all factors. The remains of the old bridge were all removed apart from the stumps of the piers. The lessons learnt were used in the design of the current Tay bridge and the Forth rail bridge opened in 1889.

Sadly Tim now has to go home tomorrow after getting us all the way from Inverness, so Bonita is awaiting new crew.


  1. A similar engineering on disaster on railway bridge between Qu├ębec and Ontario ~100 years ago supplied sufficient wrought iron for every Certified Engineer in Canada to wear an 'Iron Ring' to remind them of the effect of poor engineering design... More detail here:

  2. Thanks Trev. The collapse of the beautiful bridge into the silvery Tay also prompted the well known poem by local poet William McGonagall. He is remembered as one of the worst poets in the English language and actually made a living out of it. He has an interesting Wikipaedia page.