Turning the capstan 1950s & 1960s

By Brian Urry

My father-in-law carrying out one of his jobs whilst working for the railway. Many a time as a small boy I used to help with turning the capstan. I only know John & Mike Burtenshaw from the picture taken in the 60s.

In the top photograph you can see the railway line on the left. This caused many an accident in its time and one death that I know of.

Photo:Taken c1950s

Taken c1950s

From private collection of John Burgess

Photo:Taken c1960s

Taken c1960s

From private collection of John Burgess

Photo:Waving through the Amey II

Waving through the Amey II

From private collection of John Burgess

This page was added by Brian Urry on 05/07/2008.
Comments about this page

Great Pictures Brian. Thanks for posting them.
I actualy worked that bridge capstan once.

By william Still
On 15/03/2008

My husband Patrick started working for British Rail in March 1974 while the old swing bridge was still there and he used to be one of the gang who opened it. I remember that the very last time it opened I stood on the bridge with our daughter Paula aged 2 and I was pregnant with our son James, so I suppose you could say that the whole family were there on that last opening!

By Marilyn Nolan
On 23/04/2008

My Grandfather, Burt Longly, was bridgeman throughout the war years and his "Office" was a small snug hut situated at the western end of the bridge on the corner of Riverside and Bridge Street. He often used to let me accompany him on the bridge when it was being opened. At the eastern end of the bridge there was an entrance to the Marine workshops. Here was a blackboard on which was posted every day the bridge opening times for the next day and an invitation for a certain number of men to sign on to open it.

Trevor, I believe that the blackboard was actually an invitation for men to "sign on" as casual labourers for unloading ships not to open the bridge. Editor

By Trevor Bennett
On 30/10/2011

My father worked in the railway sheds on the quayside and often opened the old bridge in the early 1950's. I believe they were paid 1 or 2 shillings every time. Looking at the photos he may be one of the men on the capstan.

By david carter
On 17/11/2011

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