The original station at Ladbroke Grove was called Notting Hill station and was part of the Hammersmith and City Railway (later the Metropolitan Railway). It was built in 1864. If you look back at the post on Ladbroke Grove you can see it as it was before the street north of the station was built up. This is a slightly later view:
This kind of view, showing the railway lines passing over the street on a steel bridge is familiar in many parts of London. The station was subsequently called “Notting Hill (Ladbroke Grove)”, “Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove” and “Ladbroke Grove (North Kensington)”. It didn’t settle down as “Ladbroke Grove” until 1938.
This coincides with the replacement of the bridge itself, a tricky maneuver as the plan was to prefabricate the new span, detach the old one, roll it away on trestles and slide the new one into place. This week’s pictures show the story of the new bridge from the foundry in Middlesborough where it was constructed to its new home in North Kensington. Just as in our posts on the Westway when it helps if you’re a fan of concrete this week is for devotees of steel.
At Dorman, Long & Co of Middlesborough, in the apparent chaos of the foundry sit the parts of the bridge, dim light from the glass roof streaming through the overhead gantry.
And men at work, welding the sections of the girder together.
A helpful sign has been placed in front of the workers by management. Photography was becoming part of the industrial process, keeping a record of big jobs. Note the brick huts at the rear of the picture. They remind me of a summer job I had at the Shotton Steel Works in North Wales. Within the vast space of the cold strip mill the fitters huddled in huts waiting for the call (and I carried the bag of tools).
Here a man uses an oxy-acetylene torch, holding the mask between his face and the flame.
And below, with the girder on its side. You can see the flare of another torch on the left.
The same view from another angle:
The upside down writing reads: end plate girder B. A couple of indistinct men pass by taking a close look at the work.
A picture showing some detail with another caption, pointing out the flange splice (a piece of industrial poetry).
And this, another expressive phrase.
After all the assembly work, all that remained was the small matter of installing the new bridge at Ladbroke Grove
Cranes on the track with a house on the western side of Ladbroke Grove on the other. Can you see the word Greig? Not something superimposed on the pictures but a sign above a shop on some kind of metal superstructure. Two workmen and a manager (distinguished by his homberg hat) look on as the cranes lower the girder into place.
You can see the street below the work as the bridge is put into place.
A finished weld:
We can tell that this picture was taken on site because you can just see the top of a roof line on the right.
A final view looking north at the bridge, a few decades after the first picture in the post. A couple of men in coats confidently watch from below. You can see the steel trestle supporting the new and old sections of the bridge. The street (and the railway) were closed for the work which was completed in a single day. The bridge was then the largest of its kind.
Girder C has another painted sign : Hammersmith End. Very useful. You wouldn’t want to have got it the wrong way round, would you?
After May Queens and shops in South Kensington it was good to get back to some industrial images. Remember the posts on the gas works, the water tower and the building of Chelsea Bridge in 1936? We had a discussion in the department about how we think about the 1930s and how political and social events seem to crowd out the technological changes which were happening between the two world wars.
Thanks to Tim who found these pictures and suggested them for the blog. He also came up with the suggestion that a phrase I was particularly taken with,”butt weld” was a brand name for an American anti-diarrhea medicine. Sorry.