A RETIRED Kidderminster engineer has been researching the history of Stourport Bridge, which has notched up its 140th anniversary.

Keith Beddoes, 71, who now lives in Telford, explained that his interest in the bridge stemmed back to the 1950s and 1960s, when he worked at former Kidderminster engineering company, Bradley & Turton.

He said that while he worked at the company it was well known that it had supplied castings used in several buildings in the district, as well as at Stourport Bridge, where the firm’s forerunner was responsible for casting the spiral staircase.

He added: “Since the bridge’s refurbishment in 2006/2007, there have been many differing accounts as to who exactly designed and built it.

“Several of these accounts were at odds with what little I knew about the bridge and also there was no mention of Bradley’s.

“So, as a result, I took it upon myself to find out more about an important part of our heritage.”

Mr Beddoes has discovered that there were four Stourport Bridges - ranging from 1775 to 1870 - including a possible second bridge in 1795, after the washing away in severe weather of the first one.

The current iron bridge was built in 1870 and opened on October 21 that year. It cost £7,135-19-6d.

Mr Beddoes said that it was designed by Edward Wilson, who also designed the Falling Sands Viaduct and Foley Park Tunnel.

Those latter works were built from plans he had drawn up as an engineer on the construction of the GWR Kidderminster to Bewdley line.

According to Mr Beddoes, the contractors responsible for the construction of the bridge were Henry Hilton & Co, of Birmingham and Patent Shaft & Axletree, of Wednesbury.

He added that Thomas Vale was engaged on the brickwork contract for the bridge, perhaps as site forman or clerk of works.

Thomas Vale eventually set up his own business in the town now known as Thomas Vale Construction According to the Kidderminster Times of October 29, 1870, there were no accidents in the construction of the bridge. It was also initially subject to an unpopular toll for foot passengers.

Mr Beddoes said: “It is only a potted history - the end result of several weeks’ labour - but it is not the end of the story, as there are many whys and wherefores to follow up, perhaps by others interested in the past.”