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Gareth

19th century cast iron bridge question.

I was wondering if any OTGer knows anything about 19th century cast iron bridges, and more specifically cast iron bridges that span rivers and waterways.

Here in Norwich we have several bridges that span the River Wensum, but each of the cast iron bridges has a spout leading from them. I have asked around locally but no one seems to know about the function of these spouts.

Here is what I know about them:

1) The access hole to each spout is 8 inches in diameter.

2) The Spouts are only on the upstream side of the bridges.

3) The spouts are on the right hand side of the bridges (to the right of centre) which is the downstream navigational channel (boats navigate on the right hand side of rivers, canals and channels, etc.).

4)The spouts are not for shedding rainwater from the bridge's road way because they are located near to the centre of the arch in the road way, and there are drainage run-off channels where each road meets the bridges.

5) Two of the  cast iron bridges that feature the spouts are constructed of open lattice ironwork that negates the need to provide a spout to drain the roadway of the bridge.

6) All of the bridges featuring the spout are in areas of Victorian industry: that was the main reason for replacing the original crossings with the then stronger modern cast iron of that era.

Here are some photos that I took yesterday afternoon:





















Hopefully one or two of the OTG history buffs can answer my questions.
12Bore

Sort of wondering if they could have been used to fill/load spoil barges, for taking animal/human waste away from the city after it had been collected by the night spoil men? That would be one explanation for their all being of similar design and location.


I could, of course, be wrong, again.
Gareth

Joe,

Whether your answer is right or wrong, it is an excellent reply.

I have just googled Norwich sewers, and all of the cast iron bridges predate the construction of the sewerage system which the construction of began in 1870.
12Bore

I always new that my head was full of something!
Gareth

It makes very good sense to have night soil chutes on the upstream side of the bridges.

The barges could be moored up stream of the bridge and cable paid-off to reposition them for even loading. The barge operator could also keep an eye on the proceedings and verbal supervise as necessary with the reduced possibility of becoming covered in the stuff, which would be an almost certainty if the chutes/spouts were on the downstream side of the bridge.
Jakey

Coal chutes?
19th Century...the age of steam
Gareth

Jakey wrote:
Coal chutes?
19th Century...the age of steam


I originally thought of coal for steam powered boats. But after doing some research the steamers were all unloaded/loaded at the turning basin wharf (now riverside which is across the road from the footbal stadium) this area is a good 300 metres down stream from the first of the cast iron bridges.
Woodsmoke

They're guide channels for fire hoses. Early horse-drawn engines would use manual pumps to draw off water from the rivers to refill their tanks  
Gareth

Woodsmoke wrote:
They're guide channels for fire hoses. Early horse-drawn engines would use manual pumps to draw off water from the rivers to refill their tanks  


Thank you Woodsmoke.

I can see it now: the spout helping to prevent a kink in the fire tender suction hose.

Interestingly enough the section of river between the two bridges shown in the photos was a hive of steam powered industrial activity from the mid Victorian period until the 1950's with the Anchor brewery, Norvic shoe factory, a cloth mill, several wool processing factories, and a coal fired power station all located on this stretch of the river; so good access to water for fire crews was a necessity.

A couple of weeks ago I sat outside the coffee kiosk at the end of the dark Green painted bridge in the photos (Norwich Playhouse) to watch a Norfolk Fire & Rescue service exercise, and they just tossed the suction hose for the pump tender over the handrail of the bridge and into the river only feet away from the spout. They also tossed a volunteer crewman off the same bridge and into the river, and then launched the inflatable rescue boat as part of the exercise ..... I have watched the Fire & Rescue service conduct this exercise several times over the last 6 years because the date and time is often mentioned in the weekly free paper.
Woodsmoke

Gareth wrote:
Fire & Rescue service exercise, and they just tossed the suction hose for the pump tender over the handrail of the bridge and into the river only feet away from the spout


Modern hoses are composite, & they're designed to handle all sorts of rough handling & terrain. The early hoses were made from stitched leather riveted to copper fittings though. If they were kinked when they tried to draw water through them, the stitching would leak (assuming they could draw water in the first place)........once they were filled with water though, the seams would swell & seal them properly  
Slipster

   Had me weel and truly stumped
Woodsmoke

Happy to help  
Justme

My first thought was fire hoses but then I wondered about a similar suction based use.

Filling steam engine tenders.

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