100 years ago, British and Indian engineers were well-versed in spanning the sub-continentâ€™s formidable rivers with most of the pre-fabricationÂ undertaken by workshops back in Britain. Because of this, the builders on site were often accused of being little more than â€˜Meccano engineersâ€™ but the reality was that â€œerection was a demanding task that stretched the ingenuity of the engineers and the safety of the workersâ€ (Ian Kerr, Building the railways of the Raj 1850-1900).
The Beas, one of the five tributaries of the Indus that gives the Punjab (â€œfive riversâ€) its name, was first bridged by the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railway as early as 1869. Badly damaged by floods in 1871 and subsequently rebuilt, by 1908 the cast-iron edifice was in need of replacement. FIBIS has acquired a remarkable series of photographs believed taken by the North Western Railway, the SP&DRâ€™s successor, that chart the construction of the new bridge during the building season of 1908-1909. This collection can now be seen on theÂ FIBIS Social Network.