Crossing the Bridge

Quiz Photo #168, July 20, 2008

Quiz Photo #168, July 20, 2008

We ‘ve discovered more information about the photo shown in Quiz #168 posted on July 20, 2008. 

We’ve discovered through historical documents that the footbridge that the woman is crossing over in the picture is probably the Trent St. footbridge a little to the east of the Carrington St. Bridge in Nottingham. 


The intersection of Carrington and Canal Sts. as shown in the photograph at http://tinymce.moxiecode.cp/mce_temp_url is too large for the small footbridge shown in the picture.

Intersection of Carrington and Canal Sts., Nottingham


However, we’ve found a sketch of what we believe is the Trent St.Trent St. Footbridge as Seen from Carrington St. Bridge Bridge on, Image Ref: NTGM013296- Nottingham Canal from Carrington Street bridge, Nottingham, 1885.  The description of the sketch says

“This section of the Canal was part of a large scheme of water carriage which occupied the attention of our fore-fathers, and was used to bring coal from Wollaton to the Trent. The picture shows it crossed by a wooden bridge (well-known to earlier generations as a short cut to the old Midland Station) which is now replaced by a modern structure. It was for foot passengers only, and was reached by a short flight of steps at either end and carried an astonishing amount of traffic. In the background will be seen the square tower of Sneinton Church. Image and descriptive text taken from ‘Nottingham Past and Present’, published in 1926.”


St. Stephen's Church, Sneinton, c. 1838

The Sneinton Church was probably what is now known as St. Stephen’s Church, Sneinton.  See a description of the church, along with a drawing of the church showing the square tower, at


A map of the area, showing the location of the church, the Trent St. footbridge, the Carrington St. Bridge, and Midlands Station, can be found at (They appear at the bottom of the map.)


The next question we hope to answer is the time of day and the day of the year the photo was taken, as determined from the shadows in the picture.  Any takers?

Colleen Fitzpatrick
Quizmaster General
Forensic Genealogy

12 Responses to “Crossing the Bridge”

  1. 1
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    The photographer was on the south end of the bridge, facing northerly. Length of bridge is approx 33 ft ( 1/2 chain from 1820 map). Shutter speed and focus has all 3 people “frozen” in time.

    We think the photo was taken on a Wednesday or a Saturday, Nottingham’s market days. The woman is walking over the bridge to “the Meadows” residental area with her shopping basket and packages .

    Time of day is about 3 pm.

    From an 1820 map, Trent Street runs about 13 degrees west of north. The buildings on the right side have sun shine on the street side of the chimneys. Using May 10 1892 solar azimuth and the sun shine on the chimneys west side and not on the south lead us to believe the time is about 3 p.m.

    The boy’s head shadow show about a 48 degree elavation, which is consistent with early May data. The adverts would be gone or damaged in August

    The weather was sunny, so the day is not May 18 a Wednesday because the cricket match was rained out on that day.

    So far, we haven’t found 1892 daily weather for Nottingham. But we’re still looking.

  2. 2
    Administrator Says:

    Hi Nancy and Walt,

    Excellent work! The boy on the bridge – do you think he is a schoolboy? Do you think he is wearing a uniform and carrying books? If so, it would be more likely a Wednesday over a Saturday and he is on the way home from school. What time was the school day normally over in those days?

    Do you have the azimuth angle? I’d like to play with the azimuth and elevation and see if I can get more exact a date. We already know the year, so it should not be difficult to narrow the date down from the azimuth and elevation. How accurately did you measure them?



  3. 3
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    Correction on the boy’s elevation angle: 39 degrees not 48. My typing error. The guy’s shadow measures the same. For Lat 52.57.00 N and Long 1.09.00 W for May 10 1892, the Azimuth degrees for 39 deg are 115 and 245.
    Azimuth of 245 is about 4:15 pm.

    We discovered building parts not level or plumb in the photo, so the image needs to be rotated about 2 degrees to compensate for the camera tilt.


  4. 4
    Administrator Says:


    Do you think that 2 degrees makes much of a difference on May 10? If so, any ideas on how to correct the photo? Let me think about it too.


  5. 5
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    The photo was taken on a Wednesday if the boy is a government school student.

    Found this info about “higher grade school” (12- 16 yrs old) class time 25 -30 hours per week, no instruction on Saturdays. Day and Evening sessions. Evening session was for “artisans” i.e children who worked during the day

    Source: Report of the Commissioners by Great Britain Royal Commission on Secondary Education, 1895

    Class time 25 -30 hours per week, no instruction on Saturdays. Day and Evening sessions. Evening session was for “artisans” i.e children who worked during the day
    Nothing on school unforms, but I found internet photos of Nottingham High School students in uniforms in 1920.

    Don’t know that 2 degrees makes a difference, but I’m a bit compulsive about vertical after remodeling a 45 yr old house.

    I rotated the image with a photo editor until the chimneys were vertical. I can send you the adjusted photo.

    Our concern is “Are the bridge walls vertical?” If they curve , the shadows are shorten or lengthen.


  6. 6
    Administrator Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    May 10, 1892 was a Tuesday. So maybe the 2 degress does make a difference. I think wall where the shadow of the boy’s head appears in vertical, as is the place where the man’s shadow appears. However, I think the latter curves outward into the exit, symmetrically with the wall on the left with the poster.

    Do the pictures of Nottingham students you found correspond to the clothing of the boy in the picture?


  7. 7
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    Young man’s clothes are not the blazer, white shirt, tie, and soft cap of English school boys.

    So, who walks the streets in a uniform carrying a sack?
    A postman ? A 1910-12 painting of a postman shows a similar flat top cap with short bill, and a soft sack hanging from the shoulder.

    Today the search is for photos of 1890 era English postmen. And show the bridge photo to English born friends.

  8. 8
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    The young man’s uniform is similar to this 1894 postman.

    Have emailed, asking their opinion about our guy.

  9. 9
    Administrator Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I think the boy is too young to be a postman. How old did you have to be? That kind of cap might havve been the style back then. Could he have gone to a school that did not require him to have a uniform? Today a typical private school will require a uniform but a public school will not, at least not in the States.


  10. 10
    Administrator Says:


    I have a high resolution image I can send you if you give me your email address. Send it to CFitzp at aol dot com.


  11. 11
    Nancy & Walt Copes Says:

    Good news, an archivist at the Postal Hertiage Museum is interested. From the original, his opinion is the boy could be a telegram messager. FYI, starting 1875 the Royal Mail employed boys to hand deliver telegrams to physical addresses.

    My elderly British friend’s opinion was “telegraph boy”. She disagrees with the assumption of the adverts would be gone in August. Her opinion is “not necessarily”.

    Will send my email address for hi res photo.

  12. 12
    Administrator Says:


    Could you please resend your email address to me? I saw the email come in and now I cannot find it. Thanks.


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