Jim Benvie on The Tay Bridge Disaste: A Study in Ethical Failure

Power Skills

The Tay Bridge opened to great fanfare on June 1, 1878. The longest iron bridge in the world.  It was a key link in the Scottish east coast railway line. For the main players it brought honours and business success. But that success was short lived.  On the night of 28th of December 1879, in one of the worst storms in living memory, the bridge collapsed, taking with it the Edinburgh train and 59 passengers.  The subsequent public inquiry and later analysis identified several technical failures.  But this is a tale of an inspirational project, a pinnacle of Victorian engineering, that was undermined by greed and lack of leadership.

Learning Objectives:

  1. A project manager’s responsibility to ensure public safety above that of financial gain.
  2. The importance of the selection and supervision of a competent workforce.
  3. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman



Jim Benvie PMP, The History PM is a project manager and speaker with TyauvinOn Solutions.

His blog and presentations, combine a lifelong passion for history with four decades of project and operational management experience, to provide inspiration  from history for project managers and leaders.  The concept is not simply to copy historical precedents, but to use them to expand your awareness, develop your thinking and stimulate your curiosity.  Do not expect, “Five simple steps to becoming a stellar project manager”, instead expect “Some assembly required”.  However, he believes that like Aesop’s Fables you will find the content both entertaining and informative.  A long-term volunteer with PMI Houston, he lives with his wife Juliet in the Tomball area and his interests are reading, studying history, and cycling.

The Tay Bridge Disaster Feedback:

Webinar for Professional Engineers September 2022

  • From Robert: Excellent Presentation!! Thanks so much!!
  • From Christopher: Great job with the presentation. Like the wrap up and root causes, which are human/character flaws leading to design problems.
  • From Shahram: An absolutely wonderful delivery and presentation of the history of the bridge. Many thanks to the presenter and his invaluable insights. We are all mesmerized!

Seminar for Professional Engineers  August 2022

  • From Steve: Great presenter and storyteller, made it very interesting, enjoyed the slide set too, thank you
  • From Ron: Thank you so much!

PMI Houston Monthly Meeting July  2021

  • From Erica: Wonderful presentation! (From a structures engineer!)
  • From Jana:  This was very informative. Thanks Jim
  • From Rashid: Superb presentation. Superb content. Excellent slides. Well done!

It is no longer possible to register for this event

It is no longer possible to register for this event


Type of category: Membership Meetings

Type of activity: Power Skills

Date: October 3rd, 2023

Hour: 11:30AM to 12:30PM

# of PDUs: 1


Students: Free

Members: Free

Non members and Guests: Free