The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

Back to The Paper Boat


The Paper Boat sailed the east coast of Scotland and notably, sailed under the Forth Rail Bridge which was under threat at the time. George Wyllie called it Scotland's Eiffel Tower and was anxious to campaign for the restoration and maintenance of the massive cantilever bridge which spans the Firth of Forth.

The bridge was the world's first major steel bridge and its girders span more than 520 metres. It was completed in 1890 after seven years and more than 4,000 men had been employed in making it. In 1996, just as the Paper Boat was heading to the shipbreakers, a £40m refurbishment package had been agreed by Railtrack to ensure the bridge was safely maintained and repainted in "Forth Bridge Red". It is now a 'listed building' and still carries about 200 trains every day.

It was a very suitable place for the Paper Boat to voyage on its last sailing, bringing together shipping and railways as it does, and celebrating the skills of the men who created it and the engineering it showcases.

Shipbreakers, Inverkeithing (1996)

*Scottish Schools GW Archive

George Wyllie Education Initiative

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