LAST week we shared with readers a photograph — which we believed showed a canal bridge being rebuilt somewhere in Tipton.
This assumption has proved to be correct. We have received a full response, with more recent pictures.
In the meantime we have been provided with another intriguing photograph (above) by a reader — Charlie Smith, of Tipton — and this again shows a bridge with strong Black Country connections, though this time it is a railway bridge of steel construction.
Charlie cannot tell us a great deal about it, or name any of the workers shown.
He can confirm though that it was a bridge made by the Patent Shaft company of Wednesbury. The photograph is dated to 1946, just after the Second World War, and shows the reconstruction of a GWR bridge, location unknown. It is a fair bet though that the workers were of Black Country stock.
Patent Shaft operated from three sites in Wednesbury — the Brunswick Works, Monway Works, and Old Park Works. Brunswick was the site of the wheel works and Monway manufactured boilers and structural steel. In the early 1900s the Old Park site made pressed steel underframes and during the First World War also made tanks.
The company had also been famous for its steel-frame bridges, including Blackfriars Bridge, opened in 1869, Stourport Bridge, built in 1870, and the world's first allsteel (as opposed to iron) bridge over the Ganges at Benares in 1885.
The above bridge was one of the firm’s later constructions, as bridge building had largely ceased by the outbreak of the Second World War.