The Adamsdown Black Bridge

We always called it the Black Bridge, but I’m not sure what it’s called now as it’s no longer black after a number or refurbishments over the years. It’s a footbridge in Adamsdown that straddles the main train line that runs from Swansea to London Paddington (and quite a few branch lines too) and provides foot access between Adamsdown Lane and Adamsdown Place (Google Streetview).

Personally, I’m not aware of any real history of the bridge or any stories or events it’s tied to. I did always enjoy crossing it as it felt old and was really picturesque in a steam-punk / run-down way. One day in 1989 I took the camera I had on loan from my school up there and took a few photos to try and capture some of that interest for myself.

At the time I wasn’t a fledgling photographer and insisted on shooting everything with a dark red filter on the lens. As it was black and white film the red filter helped to bring up the sky and clouds which would disappear if it wasn’t use, but meant you needed bright light for it to get the best exposure. I loved the highly contrasted image the filter created, along with the view the wide-angle lens I typically shot with created. It also meant I had hundreds of photos which were badly exposed due to my instance on keeping the filter in place, but that’s another story.

So here’s the three images from that shoot, one of which was never developed previously. I would only choose a few pictures per roll to print as I had to hand develop the prints myself. The first image is one of my favourite photos from that fertile period of 6th form photography. It shows detail of the corrugated iron work of the bridge, the graffiti and the arches of the bridge, with some moody light and shadow in play.

For years it hung in the foyer of my old school, Willows High in Tremorfa, and over the years I’ve used it for various other things including a record cover. As it’s taken from the original negative, this version is wider than any printed version I made. The extra few millimetres on either side reveal a silhouetted person to the left and extra bridge frame work to the right.

The Black Bridge in Adamsdown, 1989.

The Black Bridge in Adamsdown, 1989.

This next shot is similar to the last but focuses on a different piece of the bridge and its graffiti. I’d never developed this one in the past, so interesting (for me at least) to scan it from the negative and have a play. The great thing about revisiting these old negatives after almost 30 years is I’m able to scan them in and play with their contrast and appearance on the computer. In some cases I can get them looking as I originally intended, but was never able to do at the time due to the limitations of the printing process.

The Black Bridge in Adamsdown, 1989.

Another view of the Black Bridge in Adamsdown, 1989.

The final image is a more general view of the bridge. I’m pretty sure it’s from the old Splott Market end, looking towards town. You can just see some buildings at the end of the bridge that would be right for that viewpoint. It would appear to be the very end as you can see both arches in the picture. There’s a view of what the bridge looks like now shot by Roath Park Mark here should you wish to compare.

Looking down the Black Bridge in Adamsdown towards town, 1989.

Looking down the Black Bridge in Adamsdown towards town, 1989.

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