100 years ago, British and Indian engineers were well-versed in spanning the sub-continent’s formidable rivers with most of the pre-fabrication undertaken by workshops back in Britain. Because of this, the builders on site were often accused of being little more than ‘Meccano engineers’ but the reality was that “erection was a demanding task that stretched the ingenuity of the engineers and the safety of the workers” (Ian Kerr, Building the railways of the Raj 1850-1900).
The Beas, one of the five tributaries of the Indus that gives the Punjab (“five rivers”) 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&DR’s successor, that chart the construction of the new bridge during the building season of 1908-1909. This collection can now be seen on the FIBIS Social Network.