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Bridge design to connect Scotland and North drawn up in 1890

  

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How a bridge from the North to Scotland might look. Picture: Belfast Telegraph

How a bridge from the North to Scotland might look. Picture: Belfast Telegraph

How a bridge from the North to Scotland might look. Picture: Belfast Telegraph

The first blueprints for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, which were drawn up some 130 years ago, have been revealed as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to make the prospect a reality.

Mr Johnson's £20bn (€24bn) bridge scheme appears to be a modern-day adaptation of that devised by Victorian naval architect James Maxton in 1890.

While the current favoured route would connect Larne, Co Antrim, to Portpatrick in Scotland, the 19th century plans featured a 35km route from Donaghadee in Co Down.

Presented in a lecture to Belfast's Natural History and Philosophical Society some 130 years ago, Maxton's route incorporated a bridge, a viaduct and a tunnel designed to carry trains propelled by electricity or compressed air.

The underwater structure would sit at a depth of 60ft and be held in place by a series of anchors.

Maxton estimated his "submerged bridge" would cost the taxpayer about £5.25m.

His bridge and tunnel scheme was cited more than 60 years later in a 1956 Westminster debate on the possibility of linking Scotland to Ulster, as reported in the 'Mail on Sunday'.

Controversy over the so-called "fantasy bridge" was reignited in recent weeks after it emerged that Mr Johnson is awaiting the findings of a study assessing the feasibility of the modern-day bridge and tunnel project.

His officials were tasked to look into the costs and risks just days after Mr Johnson became the Conservative leader, as he moved to shore up the UK by connecting the two devolved regions.

The structure would encompass a stretch of tunnel to navigate the offshore dump site of Beaufort's Dyke, where munitions were disposed of in the wake of World War II.

Mr Johnson's plans for the ambitious bridge has sparked anger among devolved ministers in both Northern Ireland and Scotland who argued the £20bn should instead be invested in local infrastructure.

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