THE SUNDERLAND SITE - PAGE 002
WEARMOUTH BRIDGES - PAGE 1
May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE
On this page ... some introductory words, the 1796 road bridge, the 1879 railway bridge (Thomas Hemy print, 1879 railway bridge), the 1929 road bridge.
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It is appropriate, I believe, to provide information on this page about the two Wearmouth bridges depicted in Thomas Hemy's works, which truly are unique depictions of a bygone age in the history of Sunderland. However the webmaster has never visited Sunderland, and errors can easily creep into text when one writes words without first hand knowledge. Hopefully any errors in my text will, in due course, be identified & brought to the webmaster's attention by Sunderland residents perhaps or by others whose knowledge will permit.
The bridges are essentially side by side & parallel to one another.
The Hemy painting above, of the Sunderland bridge or bridges, was from the west. Next is a view from the east in a quite magnificent late 19th century print. The image that I present on this page is but a small version of the original image - which image, giant indeed, can be seen here in all its magnificence. The image was kindly provided by a friend of the site, whom we sincerely thank. Is it not a beauty! I learn, thanks to Bruce Hammal, of London, that the print was published in the Feb. 3, 1883 edition of 'The Graphic'. But not exactly the same print, however. Bruce indicates that the illustration in his 'The Graphic' page has a monogram in the lower right-hand corner, a stylised RWR, which monogram is not in the image below. I suspect that that may be the initials of the artist or the engraver. So the illustration would seem to have been published on more than one occasion, which is really, come to think of it, not particularly surprising. Bruce's image of the print, with origin as above, is here. If you can add anything more, do please be in touch.
THE RAILWAY BRIDGE The main subject of the Hemy etching on this page is the railway bridge, depicted so dramatically in his work. More data as to where the image came from is available on this Thomas Hemy page, along with a small image of an auction item in Jul. 2006 that may very well be the original Hemy work. It was, I learn, built in 1879. So while it looks well used & black with grime, indeed looks as though it had sat there for decades, it was just three years old when Hemy painted it. Andy Dennis (who passed away on Mar. 30, 2007) advised that the bridge then provided service between between Newcastle & Teesside. And more recently, since 2002, it serves the electrified local Tyne and Wear Metro commuter system between Newcastle & South Hylton.
The bridge (designed by T. E. Harrison) looks most impressive to the webmaster. 'When built it was the largest hog-back iron girder bridge in the world - the single span of 300 feet (91.4 metres) is 86 feet (26.2 metres) above high water.' But 'Sitelines' (earlier link no longer works) seemed quite unimpressed. In their words on a 'Historical Themes' page re bridges - 'By contrast, Wearmouth Railway Bridge ... built in 1879 for the North Eastern Railway, is of rather dull design.' So there, take that, Thomas Hemy! But I like the bridge & I suspect others will like it also. And it has stood there & served the city for 131 years! Until the bridge was built in 1879, rail service ended on the north bank of the river while the city of Sunderland essentially occupied the south bank.
In Sep. 2010, a most interesting, if age faded, image was available on eBay. Of the railway bridge in the course of its construction. Of a 20 ton 'Hercules' crane, 'made especially for the erection of Wear Bridge, Sunderland' - by 'HG & Co'? The vendor advised that a notice on the photo says the crane was then for sale, 2 men leaning over the sign. A sepia image, of approx. 6 x 4 inches in size, by 'Joseph Borrow' of Sunderland. But ... Bruce Ward, advises us (thanks!), that the crane depicted is, in fact, a 'Goliath' crane.
And at left is the photograph. Modified for better presentation on this page.
And here is the railway bridge today (in front of course in the left image) in a 'Ian Britton' image available on 'FreePhoto.com'. I cannot spot a way to thank Ian for the use of his image. At right is an image kindly taken for the site by Mr. Andy Dennis, photographed from a location quite close to where Thomas Hemy set up his easel way back in 1882.
It would seem that 'Scientific American Supplement', in its issue of Jan. 1, 1881, featured the railway bridge in an article with an accompanying full page illustration attributed to 'Swain' - likely the artist or the engraver. I suspect that it was the very same illustration that was earlier published in the Nov. 12, 1880 edition of the English engineering publication 'The Engineer'. That issue contained an engraving, of 11 x 15 in. overall, entitled 'North - Eastern Railway Bridge Over the River Wear at Sunderland, Castle Works, Mr. T. F. Harrison, M.I.C.E., Engineer.' Accompanied by an article. It would be good to locate the image in a good size for inclusion here & indeed the text also. Two smaller images of the illustration follow. If you can help, do consider being in touch.
And next is a fine photograph indeed, of Engine No. 67689 crossing the 1879 railway bridge - An Allan Edwards image. I saw this image on the 'old photos' section of Bob Exton's 'Circle City Communities' website & particularly here. The full size complete image is available at that link at the click of the mouse. I do not show all of it here so that you can view it without scrolling. We thank both Allan Edwards for the use of his image & Bob Exton for obtaining Allan's kind permission. From the 1960s, I suspect.
THE 1796 ROAD BRIDGE A visitor might appreciate a little knowledge of Sunderland & of its past to appreciate the history of the road bridge. First, one should understand that Sunderland is close to the North Sea, & that the River Wear (pronounced Wee-er & tidal to some distance above Sunderland), astride which the city sits, flows through some very high banks indeed. For generations, one could & did cross the river by ferry but with some considerable inconvenience.
One would cross by a flat bottomed rowing boat called a 'coble' or maybe 'cobble'. But the gorge was so wide that no bridge in stone, then the way that bridges were constructed, could span the gorge which is 250 feet or 75 metres wide. A further difficulty was that the bridge needed to be constructed in a single span, so there would be no impediment to tall masted ships passing underneath it. Sunderland's main business at the time was the export of coal by sea. And access to the coal loading docks by sea-going vessels was quite essential.
The vessels were not the giant ocean going vessels of today. Rather they were smaller vessels of 300 or so tons, workhorses of the maritime trade. They carried the coal to London & to other markets in the south of England.
The answer lay in the use of cast iron, a new technology at the time. If such a bridge could be constructed it would permit the wide span to be bridged in a material that would endure.
In Jun. 1792, the King approved an Act of Parliament which empowered a bridge over the river to be constructed. The foundation stone was laid on the north side on Sep. 24, 1793. Bridge abutments were commenced & finished in 1795. Almost all of the bridge cost was subscribed for by one Roland Burdon, M.P. for Co. Durham.
The above image, a view from the west, came from the site of the 'University of Newcastle Upon Tyne' website that used to be available ("©SINE Project"), whom we thank. Following, next below, is a most beautiful print of the 1796 bridge in course of construction - image thanks to Glyn, of Monkwearmouth. Thank you Glyn! The inscription reads, but I cannot duplicate the stylized script:-
'To Rowland Burdon Esq., M.P., by whom this Excellent piece of Mechanism was invented, & under whose Patronage it has been carried into Execution. This East View of the CAST IRON BRIDGE bridge over the RIVER WEAR at Sunderland in the County of DURHAM, previous to the Centre being taken down. Is respectfully dedicated by His humble Servant Robert Clarke.'
The bridge was tested by marching 1,000 militiamen across it on Jun. 18, 1796! I bet they were glad when it didn't fall down, because it would have been a long, long fall to the water below! There might have been a better way to have tested the bridge! Those militiamen were, I read, from the 'Royal Tey Fencibles' & the 'North Lincoln Militia'.
On the south west approach to today's bridge, there is, I understand, a fine decorative plaque, which records the involvement of Rowland Burdon, M.P., in the original bridge, opened in 1796. I am happy to provide an image of that plaque, thanks to Mr. Tom Purvis, with alongside it some descriptive text from a contemporary (1796) journal & a couple of images of the bridge. I have surely lost detail in re-sizing Tom's fine image for presentation on this page, so his original image can be seen here. Tom, we thank you!
And here is the 1796 bridge again. Also viewed from the west. Substantially the very same view of it. It comes from 'Wearsideonline' here, whom we also thank. I cropped the image a bit & darkened it also for better presentation on this page. Both drawn from a vantage point to the west of the bridge. I read that the roadway itself was 22 feet wide while at each side were raised 5 feet wide stone flagged footpaths.
And another fine image (from the west) of the 1796 bridge. It is the work of artist John Clarke of nearby Washington. And appears here with his kind approval. I first saw the image on the 'Wearsideonline' site & it is still there today, I am advised, but is quite well hidden!
The bridge opened with great fanfare on Aug. 9, 1796, the opening being presided over by Prince William of Gloucester & attended by some 80,000 people. It was, when it opened, the largest single span bridge in the world. A toll bridge for traffic & pedestrians, the pedestrian toll being abolished in 1846 & the traffic toll only in 1885.
Re the next item, I seek your assistance. I am sure that somebody 'out there' knows the story of what exactly happened. It would seem, however, that in 1815 there was a lottery, a lottery approved by an Act of the British Parliament no less, where the 'prize' would seem to be a share of the Sunderland Iron Bridge tolls. Tolls which would seem to have been assessed not only upon those who crossed the bridge but also upon those ferry boats 'attached thereto' - which presumably means passed under it? If so, how very creative! That they would assess fees upon any vessel that travels a tidal river that had been there since time immemorial. The item is from eBay in a most interesting item that was sold in late Mar. 2007 - ticket # 1041 - offered by eBay vendor 'atlantic-fox', who may well, in 2021, no longer be in business. Thank you so much 'atlantic-fox' regardless! Can you tell me the story of the lottery, or, if you would prefer, write a paragraph about it for inclusion in these pages. Your contribution would be most welcome. In Apl. 2008, another such ticket sold via eBay, specifically Ticket # 1039.
Len Charlton advised (thanks!) that the Sunderland Bridge Lottery was, in fact, to raise money for Roland Burdon who was then Sunderland's Member of Parliament. He had financed the building of the bridge. 'In spite of tolls he got into financial difficulties and the lottery was opened for his benefit in 1816 with a prize of £5000. Tolls were abolished in 1885, no doubt to the ferry owners fury'. And further:
Rowland Burdon had been instrumental in funding and obtaining Acts of Parliament for the iron bridge across the Wear at Sunderland, opened on 9 August 1796. The single arch bridge of 236 feet 8 inches, with 94 feet clearance at low tide for sailing vessels, had been fabricated at Coalbrookdale from 260 tons of iron, an early example of industrialisation. The total cost had been £34,000 of which Burdon subscribed £30,000. When his bank collapsed, leaving him with liabilities of over £85,000, his shares were disposed of by lottery. The bridge was replaced in 1859 by the Wearmouth Bridge, supervised by Robert Stephenson at a cost of £40,000. Rowland Burdon died at the age of 82 on 17th Sep 1838.
It is of interest to the webmaster, & hopefully to the reader also, that what would seem to be the printing plate from which the above lottery ticket was printed, was sold via eBay on Aug. 10, 2011. The item, 5 x 2 1/4 inches in size, sold for GBP 73.35 with 11 bids. Found in a box of old printing plates. The listing image, 'flipped' so it can be with difficulty read, can be seen here.
A 'whitemetal' medallion was issued concerning the 'Sunderland Bridge Lottery' & thanks to a kind site visitor, I am able to show it to you here. A rare item, most probably. About 1 3/4 inches in diameter. It would appear that there must have been other versions of the medallion. One in particular was eBay available in Aug. 2010, a medallion which did not have the wording as in the left image below but was otherwise similar. The eBay listing indicated that 6,000 tickets were issued & 130 prizes of £100 to £5,000 (totalling £30,000) were awarded.
And here is that 1796 bridge again, as it was depicted in 'Illustrated London News' in 1842, viewed from the east, as reported low on this page on this most ambitious of sites, run perhaps by 'J. Weedy' who has 3,000 past issues of ILN & proposes over 20 years or so to show them (& more) on his (or her) site. An amazing & worthy purpose indeed for which he (or she) invites support. That first link shows descriptive words under the bridge image which reports of a person 'who met his doom by leaping from the highest point of Sunderland Bridge'. I am sure that he was not the first to end his life in that way & certainly was not the last.
And the 1796 bridge again, viewed from the east, as it was depicted on a fire insurance policy issued by the Durham and Northumberland Life, Fire, Mariners & General Provident Assurance Association on Jun. 24, 1855. An illustration by G. E. Wart, as I read it.
In these pages, the webmaster is happy to present related data from any source providing it relates to the theme. So next I show an image of the 1796 bridge as it was illustrated (from the west) on a piece of pottery! A most valuable piece of pottery it would seem. The jug was sold via eBay in Sep. 2006 for GBP 280.00 or approximately U.S. $ 527.49. It had a little damage, it would seem, & surely would have achieved an even higher price had it been of perfect quality. The jug was stated to date from c. 1840, created by the J. Phillips & Co, Sunderland Pottery. This is another face of the jug (it had 3 faces) depicting the Coat of Arms of 'The Grand Union of Oddfellows'. It would seem that this is not the sole depiction of the bridge on pottery. There are many such depictions. See below for the 1929 bridge in blue pottery.
I must soon re-organise these pages, because this page with its data & imagery about the Sunderland bridges is becoming much too large for comfort. But until such a re-organisation is accomplished here is a splendid image indeed - entitled 'Sunderland' - of the River Wear bridge in 1832, said to originate from 'Meyer's Universum'. Viewed from the west. The print, available for purchase in Oct. 2006, is 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches in size on a page 7 x 10 1/2 inches in size. The image I present originated with 'martin2001', of Virginia, U.S.A., a friend of the site if I may so describe him, whose fine prints have featured in many of my site pages. Why so? Because the images he chooses to present of his sale items are of a consistently fine quality. 'Martin2001', I thank you again.
Now 'martin2001' dates his print as being from the 1850s. 'Meyer's Universum' would seem to have been published over many years. 1833 is the earliest date I could quickly spot & 1858/59 the latest. Most valuable volumes indeed. I have also seen this print available on eBay hand-coloured & said to originate from 'Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham and Northumberland Illustrated' - from original drawings by Thomas Allom (1804-1872). And dating from 1832, hence my dating above. It would seem to have not always been published exactly as it appears below. For your interest, here is another T. Allom print, engraved by W. Le Petit, essentially identical in its content, but with the area along the bottom quite different. We thank Gary Defty of Manchester, U.K., for that image.
We thank Andrew Munro, for the next image, an interesting image indeed of Sunderland Bridge, of postcard size & with a notation on its back with an 1853 date. While what appears below is in black & white, Andrew advises that the original is 'printed in oil colours' & bears the following words:-
BEST COALS ONLY - COCKERELL & CO. PURFLEET WHARF, BLACKFRIARS & EATON WHARF, PIMLICO - PRINTED IN OIL COLOURS BY MYERS & COMPY LICENCEES SUNDERLAND
And next another quite similar print that originates, I understand in Finden's 'Ports, Harbours & Watering Places of Great Britain', published in 1842. The print is entitled 'SUNDERLAND' & the following words are under the bottom of the print: '(THE BRIDGE FROM THE WESTWARD)' & 'London. Published 1836 by Charles Tilt, 86 Fleet Street.' It shows the 1796 River Wear bridge in a panoramic view from the west. Drawn by G. Balmer & engraved by W. Finden. We thank Gary Defty for this image also. A coloured version of the print is also available. Thought to be c. 1845.
The prominent structure at left in the print below is, I learn, a lime kiln (Sheepfold Lime Works, I believe) & would seem to be in fact located at about the same spot from which Thomas Hemy later painted the railway bridge almost 50 years later. There were, & indeed still are to this very day, lime kilns on the banks of River Wear, but they are located a little further west, on the north bank opposite Deptford. No longer in use, of course. James Bryce of the 'Southwick History and Preservation Society' (SHAPS) kindly advises that there were two independent lime kilns located there, specifically the Burdis (or Burdes) & the Bowes (or Bowers) kilns. Now with a 'listed building status', I read, which I presume means they will continue to be preserved. I now see that the 1895 Ordnance Survey map of the area shows 'Carley Lime Works' there with 'Old Lime Works' next to the west.
Alas, the web sites linked in this paragraph no longer exist. But I leave the paragraph here hoping that they may one day be resurrected. When I added in this note, in early Dec. 2013, I added in the next image, re lime kilns at Southwick, which may possibly relate but I am not sure if it in fact does. It certainly dates from the early 19th century, since the print was included in this 1820 volume - 'The History and Antiquities of the Palatine of Durham; Compiled From Original Records, Preserved in Public Repositories and Private Collections; And Illustrated By Engravings of Architectural and Monumental Antiquities, Portrait of Eminent Person &c. By Robert Surtees. London; J Nichols & G Andrews, 1820. Volume 2. Pages; IV, 408, (2).' - An old print of a lime kiln, maybe one or other of those two named kilns, used to be available at a now gone website 'lhi.org'. And a 2004 image of the restored kilns is available at that link also. And I now see that through that page an SHAPS website is available with almost 1,300 local images including a series of 13 images of the Southwick kilns & their setting today (images #702 through #714). You can gladly access the site & the image archive but the many thumbnail images will take a while to download. To me the most representative image was #708, (the site is long gone, alas) which shows the taller Burdis/Burdes lime kiln in the foreground & the Bowes/Bowers lime kiln behind in a photograph taken in Jul. 2004.
And the prominent smoking kiln, at right in the image below, & in the image above also? What is or was that? I though it was a pottery but it would seem that it rather was the bottle works of Scott and Horn. It was removed to make way for the later construction of the railway bridge & it, or a predecessor, was at that location since as early as 1769 when 'The New Glass House' existed there, owned by John Hopton from Whitefriars. As you can read here.
A site page has now been added to feature what limited data has come to my attention about the coal staiths of Sunderland. Here. There were once a great many of them. On the west side of South Dock, in particular. Some were to the left & behind where the artist was seated re the illustration below, on the opposite north bank of the river. But also in the right of the image, from the foreground almost to the bridge, where were located the Lambton & Hetton coal staiths. Looking at the next image one surely cannot imagine the later scene, initially with cars full of coal being pulled by horses along primitive rails, through tunnels in the hillside, to the very edge of the river. And later railway locomotives to do the very same job. There to be loaded into the holds of ships moored below for shipment to southern England & indeed much of Europe. Looking at the terrain depicted below, (or, while I have not myself seen it, the tranquil scene of this very day), one would wonder how can that even be possible? It was indeed possible & not so very long ago either. Do drop me a note re any available material & if you know, data about exactly how the loading was accomplished, something contemporary images do not advise.
What I believe was an even better image of the above print was available in Dec. 2006, from eBay vendor 'antiqueportrait'. The eBay item (& likely such vendor) is long gone of course, but the image, cropped & tidied a little, can be seen here.
That first bridge had a modest 'hump' in the centre, as you can see in the images above, a hump which proved to be of some considerable inconvenience to traffic. And with the passage of time major repairs became necessary. The bridge was substantially repaired in 1805. In 1858 a major reconstruction of the bridge was carried out to the recommendations of consultant engineer Robert Stephenson & a reconstructed bridge, now substantially of wrought iron, was opened on Mar. 5, 1859 absent the 'hump' in the centre.
I wonder how much clearance there was under the bridge? To permit ships to travel up and down the river. I say that because on Sep. 28, 1886, Ashburne, a 2469 gross ton steamer built in 1879 by Short Brothers, ran into the bridge. She was being towed upstream and there was an unusually high tide at the time. The ship's bridge was completely smashed & the top three feet of her mainmast hit the bridge resulting in the mast breaking off three feet from the deck. Captain James Lambert was Ashburne's captain at the time and he, poor fellow, ended up with two broken legs. As per this interesting article (which misspells the vessel's name).
And the next brilliant image shows the bridge under construction in 1858. Thanks to 'theunderstudy' whose old & new Sunderland related images can be found in abundance at 'Flickr'. This particular image can be seen here. Thanks so much 'theunderstudy'!
An image kindly provided by Carl Devitt - an image that is widely available however. 'Sunderland Tugs and Shipbuilding in pictures' on Facebook, describes the image as follows:- The first Wearmouth Bridge circa 1858, Scott and Horn's Bottleworks on the South bank. The Bridge was rebuilt shortly after this and finished in 1859. Twenty years later the Bottleworks had been demolished and the Railway Bridge was there. You can view the image as both sepia & black & white here.
It is the 1859 bridge that one can see peeping underneath the railway bridge in Hemy's watercolour & print. And in the print that next follows - a view from the east:
It was described on the website of Justin F. Skrebowski, seller of antique prints, of 177 Portobello Road, London, W11 2DY, U.K., as being:
'after W. R. Robinson' and 'London, R. Vint & Carr c. 1860. Steel engraving or woodcut. Original hand-colouring. 320 x 465 mm.'
My purpose on this page is to depict the bridge alone so I have cropped the available image. Should Mr. Skrebowski prefer the print not appear on this page, I will of course remove it.
The University of Newcastle believes that the print dates from 1841, was engraved & printed by W & A. K. Johnston of Edinburgh & is of the proposed bridge across the river.
The 1859 bridge is well illustrated indeed in the image that follows, a view from the west - originally published, in 1863, I read, in 'Reid's Handbook to Newcastle Upon Tyne'. The print appears on the most extensive 'Pictures of Gateshead' site, the effort of Mr. Andy Williamson. You can see the image on his site via this page (4th row). And his 'front door' is here. Andy, we sincerely thank you! Images of the 1859 bridge seem to be relatively scarce & this one is a beauty.
And next, thanks to the kindness of Graham Wood, we can show you a print of the river at Sunderland etched by A. J. Moore. A much larger image of the print can be seen here. It would appear that there were three artists of the name, the most famous being Albert Joseph Moore (1841/1893) a painter of a quite different style. The Sunderland print is surely not his, rather it is the work of Anthony John Moore (1852/1915), described as 'a prolific painter and etcher of views of Sunderland', many of whose works, but not this one, can be seen here. The print would seem to be named, recently at least, 'Sunderland Docks' - but that likely would not be the artist's own title for the work, since the docks are left & right behind the artist & seem not to feature in the artwork. A later artist of the identical name.
And here again (next below) is that same 1859 bridge, in a dramatic print that shows the now long gone 'Ironworks' of S. Tyzack & Co. The image comes from the site of the 'University of Newcastle Upon Tyne' & can be seen here ("©SINE Project") along with another image of the 1859 bridge. Indeed, at that page you can 'zoom in' on the print, to view it in greater detail. To the webmaster's eyes the bridge seems to 'dip' a little in the centre, but I am sure that is not, in fact, correct.
That 1859 bridge survived until 1927, when construction commenced of a new bridge with prominent arches, reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour bridge in Australia. It re-used balustradings from the prior bridge as much as possible, & the same pattern was used for the new railings required.
The bridge was opened on Oct. 31, 1929 by the Duke of York (later to be King George VI). Decorative panels at mid-span on both sides of the bridge were included with the words 'Nil desperandum auspice deo' which I gather essentially means 'Do not despair, put your trust in God'.
Those Latin words, I now read, were on the city arms or seal of the City of Sunderland.
The panels, indeed the whole 1929 bridge, is/are still there today.
In late Jun. 2012, a most interesting sepia image was sold via eBay. Of the 1929 Sunderland road bridge in the course of its construction in 1928. Taken from the east.
The photograph is at right. It would be good to be able to present the image here in a greater size, but I am happy just to find the rare image & show it here in the available size.
The next image shows the 1929 road bridge in a recent image with the 1879 railway bridge (or the track & a bit of the bridge at least) just visible at left. The image came from an earlier version of this City of Sunderland site. I thank the City of Sunderland & hope that use of the image on this non-profit & informational site is in order. A comment which applies equally to other images on this page. Next below that image is a composite image of the 1929 road bridge which shows the opening of the bridge in 1929 & one of the decorative panels mentioned above. The bridge opening image, taken from the south bank on the east side of the bridge, came from Carol Green's interesting web page which seems no longer to be available. For a while, I could not find again the image of the decorative panels to be able to thank the source of that fine image. But have since done so. It is image #2 in a number of images provided by the BBC available here. We thank the photographer whose name, however, seems not to be stated.
Elizabeth Hampton has written in asking how many construction workers died during the course of construction of the 1929 bridge. It is not a question that the webmaster can answer. Apparently Elizabeth's grandfather's brother in law - William Wilkinson, aged 39, died as a result of an accident whilst working on the Wearmouth Bridge on Sep. 24, 1928. A girder slipped & hit his head, & he died on the way to hospital leaving a widow & five children. Elizabeth also wonders whether any compensation would have been paid to such a construction victim. Do be in touch with the webmaster if you can address any part of Elizabeth's interesting questions. Elizabeth has now been back in touch. She has learned that at the inquest, William Wilkinson's death was determined to be accidental & his family would have received no compensation at all. A service was held at St. Benet's Roman Catholic Church & his body was carried in a well-attended procession to be buried at Monkwearmouth Cemetery.
And here is a postcard image dating from 1931, a Valentines postcard mailed from Sunderland on Jan. 17, 1931. Of the then quite new road bridge. I think my scanning of it might be improved, however.
And here is the 1929 bridge in pottery! Artistic licence I presume, since there would be no position from which such a view would be possible - since the railway bridge IS, like it or not, there. This image was ex eBay & the jug featured no less than six U.K. bridges. A 'Rington Tea Merchants' (Rington's of Algernon Road, Newcastle On-Tyne) bowl by Wade Ceramics with a reference to 'Maling". I now read that 'The 'Maling Pottery' of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, was in production from 1762 to 1963, the first Maling pottery being established by William Maling at North Hylton, near Sunderland, in 1762. In 1817, Robert Maling, (3rd generation) moved the facilities to Newcastle where it continued to manufacture through 1963. Maling was associated with Rington from 1928 through 1962. The jug was 6 1/4 or 6 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches deep. Old? Not particularly I suspect, but collectible most certainly. That eBay item sold for GBP 14.50 or approximately U.S. $27.13. One, now expired eBay item, of what I thought was the very same item, sold for the more modest price of GBP 5.19 or approximately U.S. $9.91. But there have been more sales since & maybe items today available, since those above words were written.
It is fitting, I think, that the last image on this page should be of the river & of the bridges in recent times. In fact of an acrylic on canvas painting entitled 'Silence on the Wear' by artist Nick Thompson of Sunderland. Nick advises that it was painted in 1989 'at a time when the business of shipbuilding on the river had come to an end and the river was empty of ships.' His easel was set near Fish Quay, where the old Customs House used to be. The cranes at right were soon to be demolished as was the power station chimney in the right distance. It was close to here that the little steam ferry used to go back & forth across the river from Bodlewell Lane in the south to near the Joseph L. Thompson shipyard in the north. The scene is personal to Nick. His father spent his life on the river as a 'foyboatman' & his grandfather would have passed the very place many hundreds of times as a river pilot.
We thank Nick Thompson for sharing his work with us. At least the bridges are still there. Maybe the fisherman too! And the memories live on.
The above is a distillation of words from many sites. For greater detail than I can provide here, may I suggest you access other WWW sources. You years ago used to be able to buy a 'cross-stitch' pattern of the 1929 bridge!
If YOU can provide, for use on this page, large scans of early engravings of the bridges, or other images that relate to the general subject, your contribution would be most welcomed.
View of Wearmouth Bridge Issued 1796, London, printed Heptinstall et all. Sheet measures c. 4 7/8 x 8 inches. An e-Bay item in Aug. 2016 here.
And do visit the next page, i.e. page 003 for the Hemy artwork & print entitled 'Old Sunderland'.
A 'thank you list', to acknowledge those who have helped this site advance, can be found at the bottom of page 040.
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