IT is just fifty years ago this month since the famous Forth Bridge was opened and a hundred years ago since one of its designers, Sir Benjamin Baker, was born. The son of Benjamin Baker of Car low, Ireland, Sir Benjamin was born in Somersetshire on March 31, 1840, and at the age of sixteen was apprenticed at the Neath Abbey Iron Works, South Wales. At the age of twenty he entered the employ of a civil engineer in London and two years later began his long association with Sir John Fowler (1817-98), who was then engaged on the construction of the first part of the London Underground Railway. Baker first gained recognition by a series of articles in Engineeringin 1867 on “Long-Span Bridges”. This series was followed by others on beams, brickwork and urban railways. In the 'seventies plans had been drawn up by Sir Thomas Bouch for a bridge over the Firth of Forth, but the failure of his Tay Bridge led to a reconsideration of the scheme.