Engineers demonstrating the cantilever bridge system, 1887

A landmark display in 1887 showing the weight of the central extension of the bridge being transmitted to the banks via diamond-shaped supports.

The central "weight" is Kaichi Watanabe, one of the first Japanese engineers to study in the UK. Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker of Imperial College, who designed the Firth of Forth Bridge, provide support.

Fowler and Baker represent the cantilever, their arms are under tension and the sticks are under compression, and the bricks are cantilevered end piers that are weighted with cast iron. The action of the outer foundation as an anchor for the cantilever is reflected in the placement of the counterweight.

The first cantilever bridges appeared in the 19th century when the need for longer bridges presented itself. To solve the length problem, engineers of the time discovered that multiple supports would distribute the load between them and help achieve length.

, The predecessors of cantilever bridges were bridges with hinge points that were placed mid-span. The first person to invent and patent a cantilever bridge was Heinrich Gerber who did it in 1866.

His first cantilever bridge was the Hafurt Bridge over the Main River in Germany. It was not very impressive by today's standards – it was 38 meters in length but is considered the first modern cantilever bridge.

The Forth Bridge, the bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, is one of the most famous early cantilever bridges, and this is for a reason.

It is a railway bridge built in 1890 with an overall length of 2,528.7 meters while its longest span is 520 metres. It remained the longest bridge in the world until the Quebec Bridge was built in 1919 with a span of 549 metres.

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