Saturday, 4 October 2014

Introduction to the Wednesbury Bridge Area

The Tame was foul as foul could be,
With sewage black as dye;
It ran with garbage in the wet,
And stank when it was dry;
No fishes lay beneath its bank –
There were no fish to lie.”
(A Victorian poem about the Tame, also known locally as the 'Black Brook')


Frederick William Hackwood, a Victorian historian of Wednesbury, called the town a place of ‘wild-fire’ and ‘Tame Water’; an expression for the town that encapsulates the Mordor-like landscape of the coal mines and forges and the idea of, what were once, babbling brooks that encircle the edges of the town. Brooks and rivers would often form the natural boundaries of parishes, and around Wednesbury, water formed the shape of the parish on three sides. The River Tame itself formed the eastern boundary between Wednesbury and West Bromwich. The other source of the Tame, that flows from Willenhall through Darlaston (and is sometimes called Willenhall Brook), formed the northern boundary between Wednesbury and Walsall. The Lea Brook, in the south, marked the boundary with Tipton and Sedgely. So, it is the River Tame and its tributaries that gave Wednesbury its shape, quite literally. Every summer this watery boundary would be walked, traditionally known as ‘beating the bounds’, and children would be thrown into the Tame during the ritual, to remind them where the boundary lay, but afterwards all retired to the local pub for ale, cheese and bread.

Along the length of the river mills were also built using the water for power, the most prominent being Wednesbury Forge (see Bescot section) but there was also a lesser known mill at Wednesbury Bridge which played a vital part in Wednesbury’s growth into an important industrial town. The bridge and mill were more-or-less contemporary with one another, both being built in the 1600s, and it was at Wednesbury Bridge Mill that a new method of producing iron was adopted, meaning that a strong trade in making gun barrels was ignited, which needed a better quality metal. This trade led to tube making, which expanded hugely with the coming of gas lighting, and the fact that Wednesbury became known as ‘Tube Town’ reveals how important that trade was to the town. A number of tube manufactories were situated along the river, including two by Wednesbury’s most famous tube manufacturers.

FIND OUT MORE
Wednesbury Bridge:-  Wednesbury Bridge Mill  -:-
Tube Making:-  Brunswick Tube Works  -:-  Document Archive for Tube Making in Wednesbury  -:-

R I V E R   G A L L E R Y

Wednesbury Bridge in the 1960s.

The Tame looking downstream from
Wednesbury Bridge, May 2014.

Inflow near Wednesbury Bridge.

Shopping trolley and iron ore traces at Wednesbury Bridge.

Looking upstream at Wednesbury Bridge,
May 2014 by Jenni Dixon.

Downstream under the industries at Wednesbury Bridge,
May 2014 by Jenni Dixon.

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