The iconic Shifnal Bridge spans generations
But that, like so much else in the ancient city, has changed, as our comparison photos from just over 100 years apart show.
Originally it was an elegant vaulted Victorian structure. But they said it worked and they needed something stronger and more modern, so in 1953 it was replaced by what you see today.
At that time, the old cast iron bridge, built by the Horseley Bridge Company, was 105 years old. His reach of 90ft 2in was considered the widest between Chester and Wolverhampton.
The line and iconic Shifnal viaduct, carried, had been laid in the late 1840s.
The new bridge, with tensile steel main members, was the work of the Horsehay Company, which sounded rather similar.
The work to dismantle the original bridge did not go as planned. Far from being weak, he was a tough, well-knit old nut. The dovetail joints meant that the cast iron could not simply be lifted, so oxyacetylene cutters had to be used, but these proved not powerful enough and special cutters had to be brought in.
And while we had hoped that the bridge could be demolished in one day – on a Sunday – in case it took much longer than expected.
Trains have been diverted to Stafford in the meantime.
Our fascinating old photo is from Bridgnorth postcard collector Ray Farlow and the only information that accompanies it is a penciled note on the back that reads: ‘Taken by Geo L Hill, Shifnal’. Although it is undated, there are clues that help narrow it down.
The car on the right – can a car lover identify what it is? – has a rounded radiator which, according to an old car book, was fashionable from 1905 to 1910.
But it looks like at the time of the photo this engine was already an old banger, as a poster in the distance just left of center features Mollie King, who was an actress in films from 1916 to 1924.
It can pretty much be read to read “The Mystery of the Double Cross” which was a 1917 film, so clearly the image can’t be earlier than that and, assuming the posters advertising films would be changed regularly, would suggest the image dates from 1917 or 1918, so towards the end of the Great War.
Obviously, there wasn’t as much traffic in Shifnal back then, and the people in the foreground seem to be chatting with someone sitting in the back of a car, possibly a three-wheeler.
On the right is a hanging sign for the “Star and Eight Bells Hotel”, as well as an AA sign and a hanging sign for a garage, the owner appearing to be named Rich. The star must be out of the picture on the right because it had been ravaged by fire in March 1911 and was therefore probably a ruin at the time.
Today, Odfellows Wine Bar stands on the site.
Modern Bradford Street – seen under the arch – is now a wide parade, but it was the result of demolitions in the past that opened it up.
Shifnal saw a significant amount of demolitions in the mid-1960s, although a different picture in our records suggests the buildings seen through the arch were demolished in the summer of 1970.
Shifnal continues to evolve, with a large number of new houses being built in the town in recent years. Our modern photo was taken on Easter Monday, and the work in progress on the left (or which would continue if it wasn’t a holiday) is the laying of attractive new paving.