The subject for the May 2013 Birmingham Viewpoint project was Birmingham Bridges. As I was due to be taking a canal trip in May that would start in Worcester and pass through Birmingham I thought that I’d be able to get a great shot of one of the many canal bridges that are to be found in the city.
However, before the canal trip I’d had the idea that I could get an interesting photo of the Mary Vale Road bridge over the railway line at Bournville Station, my local station. Here are my first two attempts.
These showed the concept I was looking for, but the overhead wires and pylon in the background detracted from the image, so I rejected them as candidates.
Then it was time for my canal trip and, with the weather looking to be set fair, I was expecting to get some very interesting shots. We travelled up from Worcester along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. This is ‘home’ territory for me as I live close by the canal.
This first picture shows one of the double canal and rail bridges that are to be seen along the Edgbaston stretch of the canal.
This bridge is relatively new. When I was a student at Birmingham University (1976 – 79) I lived in the halls of residence on The Vale site and was completely unaware of the canal running alongside! Since then, the whole system of waterways in Birmingham has been opened out and with the construction of this bridge, students can now walk along the towpath from The Vale to the campus.
We stayed in Birmingham overnight and I captured this image, which I’m not sure would have qualified as an entry for Birmingham Viewpoint.
The next day we set off, heading towards Wolverhampton, along the Birmingham Canal Network (BCN) Main Line. The first of the numerous photo opportunities was St Vincent Street Bridge, still in the centre of the city.
Further along the canal we came to Smethwick Junction where the BCN Old Main Line departs to the right and the New Main Line, built by Thomas Telford, continues straight ahead. The Old Main Line follows the contours and was built by James Brindley. The New Main Line is characterised by the deep cuttings and long straight stretches that cut several miles from the trip between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The Soho Loop, Icknield Port Loop and Oozells Street Loop are all parts of the Old Main Line.
Then we came to one of the most striking bridges over the canal to be seen anywhere, but very difficult to get a decent picture. From the direction we were travelling, the bridge appears high up over the canal just after coming out of Galton Tunnel. Then shortly after passing under it there is another bridge, this one carrying the railway over the canal, and all too quickly the magnificent Galton Bridge is obscured from view.
This bridge is in Smethwick and so I was approaching the limit of what I could call a Birmingham Bridge, but there was one shot left that I wanted to attempt. A few days earlier I’d watched “Brushing Up On…British Bridges with Danny Baker”. In the opening sequence there was a shot from a bow of a canal boat showing the M5 bridge over the BCN Main Line. It was only on screen for a couple of seconds, but I thought that I could recreate it.
I don’t know the name of the bridge in the foreground, but in the distance, the low bridge is actually the Stewart Aqueduct carrying the BCN Old Main Line over the New Main Line. Beyond that is the M5 Motorway way up above the canal marching across the city on massive stilts.
So, which one of these did I choose for submission to Birmingham Viewpoint? It was a difficult decision and, ultimately, one that I couldn’t make! Whilst any one of these canal bridges could have made a worthwhile submission, I wanted to go back to Bournville Station for one last chance at a photo. This was the result and the picture that I submitted.
The next Birmingham Viewpoint subject is Birmingham Made Me, so I doubt if I will have so many choices!