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Tom Morgan

"Broken Bridge" on the Tame Valley Canal.

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I wonder if anyone has any information on a former bridge over the Tame Valley Canal.  The only remnants today are the brick and stone buttresses on either side of the towpaths.  I'm trying to find out what this bridge was originally called, and, if possible, why it's no longer intact.  Demolished? Collapsed?  The location is 87 metres West from Crankhall Lane Bridge - i.e. heading away from Birmingham.  If I can I'll add a photo of the remains and a map of about 1914, showing the two buttresses - the two rectangular features on the towpaths just below the words "Iron Foundry" in the centre of the map.

 

bridge1.jpg

bridge2.jpg

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Its just a pair of abutments on the 1889 6" OS map as well.

https://maps.nls.uk/view/101597552#zoom=6&lat=4454&lon=7083&layers=BT

 

Quaite amazing for a pair of abutments which have been disused for 130 years still to be more or less intact.

I wonder if the abutments were built in the expectation that a deck would follow, but it was never done?

 

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I know nothing more than is on the plans and photos so this is just educated guesswork There is no evidence from the air that there was ever a track over it, so it may have been an accommodation bridge that ceased to be needed when the foundry was built? David Mack's theory also has legs

 

I'm not surprised the abutments are still standing, I'm slightly surprised they're not more overgrown

 

View from the road in streetview, not that it tells you much! 

 

Edited to add - it does look like the top of the abutments is some way below ground level and also perhaps the beginnings of a spring for an arch?

 

860863084_TameValleyBridge.png.23c82b6ac383ef860c718e6ba705545a.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by magpie patrick

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They look substantial enough to have been put there for a railway leading to / from the iron foundry 

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There’s no evidence of the past existence of any form of way leading to the bridge on old OS maps. That suggests it was never used as anything but an occupation bridge to join the land on either side. I do concur with the view that it was a arched bridge both from the remains and the fact it fits with the architecture of the Tame Valley Canal. Note there is a nearby arched occupation bridge at Friar Park Farm. This suggests to me that that bridge probably was complete at one point rather than a set of abutments awaiting a span. The canal was only built in the 1840s and the bridge was out of use by the 1880s.

 

JP

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Just in case a closer look at the remaining structures might give anyone any clues, I walked over there this morning (I live about half a mile away) and took a few photos:

 

In order - North Abutment, South Abutment, Aerial (sides), Aerial (above).

 

 

DJI_0186.JPG

DJI_0187.JPG

DJI_0188.JPG

DJI_0190.JPG

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I think the most notable feature in the photos is the path leading directly to the bridge between the houses and gardens. So although the demolition of the bridge span long pre-dates the houses there may have always been a right of access approaching the bridge. Does that path possibly turn behind the gardens to the right of the shot and join up to Crankhall Lane? It appears the gardens may be shorter on that side to potentially accommodate such a path. If so it’s possible that the bridge was rendered redundant by the diversion of the access rights it once supported. This may have been the result of sale of land adjacent to the canal. Pure supposition. Unless someone comes up with documentation relating specifically to the issue we’ll never know.

 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg

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The blue bricks look mid-19th century, while those surviving from the arch look redder, so possibly earlier. Perhaps an accommodation bridge which was strengthened at some time? It is difficult to be more certain from just the photo.

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17 minutes ago, Pluto said:

The blue bricks look mid-19th century, while those surviving from the arch look redder, so possibly earlier. Perhaps an accommodation bridge which was strengthened at some time? It is difficult to be more certain from just the photo.

It’s hard to imagine those bricks can have been in use at this location earlier than the mid-19th century as the canal dates from 1844 and presumably the cut was made during its building.

 

Could it just be that they are discoloured by run-off through the soil above them?

 

JP

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35 minutes ago, Captain Pegg said:

I think the most notable feature in the photos is the path leading directly to the bridge between the houses and gardens. So although the demolition of the bridge span long pre-dates the houses there may have always been a right of access approaching the bridge. Does that path possibly turn behind the gardens to the right of the shot and join up to Crankhall Lane? It appears the gardens may be shorter on that side to potentially accommodate such a path. If so it’s possible that the bridge was rendered redundant by the diversion of the access rights it once supported. This may have been the result of sale of land adjacent to the canal. Pure supposition. Unless someone comes up with documentation relating specifically to the issue we’ll never know.

 

JP

When I got home and saw the photos on my PC, I noticed that, too.  You can see the passageway, and where it emerges, on the Google Earth aerial below.  It comes out into a late-1930s cul-de-sac.  If you look at the second image, a 1903 map of the area, you can see the iron foundry, with its own canal wharf and access road to Crankhall Lane. This access road still exists in the same location, accessing the commercial laundry premises which now occupy the iron foundry site. It runs alongside the back garden fences of the houses on the northern side of the cul-de-sac. The rectangular area marked "Sand Pit" on the map coincides exactly with the area on which the cul-de-sac and its gardens are now. 

Bridge 3.jpg

Bridge 4.jpg

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1 hour ago, Pluto said:

The blue bricks look mid-19th century, while those surviving from the arch look redder, so possibly earlier. Perhaps an accommodation bridge which was strengthened at some time? It is difficult to be more certain from just the photo.

When brick manufacturing was less sophisticated than it is now, and the resulting product was less consistent, it was common to select the good bricks for areas where strength or appearance were important, with discoloured or otherwise less desirable bricks used in less critical areas. In an arched bridge it is quite common to have some brick infill over the ends of the arches, which is there partly to add dead weight and partly to distrbue the arch thrust into the abutment and ground behind. Using the less fired red bricks for that would seem reasonable.

  • Greenie 1

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It's just abutments on the 1884 6inch map as well so looks like never finished.

 

Capture.JPG.13f5705e9a90bd8d1344a258c1d69cb3.JPG

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2 hours ago, buccaneer66 said:

It's just abutments on the 1884 6inch map as well so looks like never finished.

 

 

That's forty years after the canal was built, which is quite a chunk of time to elapse - I can think of other accomodation bridges that were redundant in that kind of timescale, especially with urbanisation meaning one side of the canal gained an industrial or other urban development. There were several canals that didn't last forty years, never mind bridges!

 

I can imagine the owner of Old Hall may well have sold the land across the canal to the foundry on condition the bridge was removed to keep oiks out (this does assume the foundry post-dates the canal)

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2 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

That's forty years after the canal was built, which is quite a chunk of time to elapse - I can think of other accomodation bridges that were redundant in that kind of timescale, especially with urbanisation meaning one side of the canal gained an industrial or other urban development. There were several canals that didn't last forty years, never mind bridges!

 

I can imagine the owner of Old Hall may well have sold the land across the canal to the foundry on condition the bridge was removed to keep oiks out (this does assume the foundry post-dates the canal)

Agreed. That isn’t the remnants of a part completed bridge. The arch has been demolished.

 

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18 hours ago, David Mack said:

When brick manufacturing was less sophisticated than it is now, and the resulting product was less consistent, it was common to select the good bricks for areas where strength or appearance were important, with discoloured or otherwise less desirable bricks used in less critical areas. In an arched bridge it is quite common to have some brick infill over the ends of the arches, which is there partly to add dead weight and partly to distrbue the arch thrust into the abutment and ground behind. Using the less fired red bricks for that would seem reasonable.

What you say is well-known and correct, but if you look carefully at the detailed photo, the reddish bricks on the righthand side form the start of the arch, and are not just infill.

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It has to be remembered that the Tame Valley Canal was built on the 1840's and is a credit to the engineer James Walker. This former bridge near Crankhall Lane Bridge appear to have had a use in connection with a small sand bed. Nearby there were the Hall Green Sand Beds on the other side of Crankhall Lane. There were sand quarries at Hall Green, Friar Park and Bustleholme. 

 

Yet there is an issue as to purpose and a more plausible reason for the bridge, was as an accommodation bridge in association with the Old Hall.

 

Bromwich Hall is shown on Map 62 of the 1830's Old Ordnance Survey (1831-1832) for this sheet. This survey predates the Canal. A later version (sheet 42) added the canal,, in a fashion which shows some bridges as aqueducts !

 

Sheet 62

 

Wednesbury.png

 

Sheet 42;

 

 

 

Wednesbury1.jpg

Edited by Heartland

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17 minutes ago, Heartland said:

It has to be remembered that the Tame Valley Canal was built on the 1840's and is a credit to the engineer James Walker. This former bridge near Crankhall Lane Bridge appear to have had a use in connection with a small sand bed. Nearby there were the Hall Green Sand Beds on the other side of Crankhall Lane. There were sand quarries at Hall Green, Friar Park and Bustleholme. 

 

Yet there is an issue as to purpose and a more plausible reason for the bridge, was as an accommodation bridge in association with the Old Hall.

 

Bromwich Hall is shown on Map 62 of the 1830's Old Ordnance Survey (1831-1832) for this sheet. This survey predates the Canal. A later version (sheet 42) added the canal,, in a fashion which shows some bridges as aqueducts !

 

Sheet 62

 

Wednesbury.png

 

Sheet 42;

 

 

 

Wednesbury1.jpg

It strikes me that the digging of the sand pit may be the reason the bridge ceased have a function rather than the reason for it having one.

 

JP

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871451078_Screenshot2020-05-03at09_55_11.png.154f2abc86a3471a5071b5eb0932e37b.png

 

And the title maps offer absolutely no help either........

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