Iron & Steel is a story inspired by the history of the Tay Bridge, a Scottish railroad viaduct that collapsed in a storm while carrying a crowded passenger train in 1879. At the time, the bridge was the longest in the world. The engineer who designed it had been knighted by the queen, and the bridge’s subsequent failure only fourteen months after completion remains, along with the sinking of the Titanic, one of the most shocking technological disasters of the Industrial Age.
Set in a time when engineers were achieving a level of celebrity once reserved for poets and war heroes, the story focuses on two men: Charles Jenkins and Stewart Darrs. Jenkins is a young engineer and metals expert looking to build bridges out of steel, a material that had yet to be accepted by the British railroad establishment. Darrs, on the other hand, is a veteran engineer who has spent thirty years building railroads and iron bridges across Scotland and northern England.
Together, they are men on the cutting edge of the technology of their day, living in a world where railroads are transforming the landscape and bridges of previously unimaginable length are among the highest symbols of a nation’s industrial might.