Marsh Street / Forty Foot / Fox Heads Bridge, Middlesbrough

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The exact name of this bridge seems to be a little vague, modern OS maps call it ‘Marsh Street Bridge’ although i’ve also heard others call it ‘Forty Foot Bridge’ or ‘Fox Heads Bridge’
Marsh Street / Forty Foot / Fox Heads Bridge, Middlesbrough
The housing to the south of the bridge was known as ‘Fox Heads’ or ‘Foxheads’ as it was built for the workers of the Newport Rolling Mills operated by Messrs Fox, Head and Company.

The bridge is shown as existing on the 1894 town plan although the housing in the immediate area is still incomplete.
The plan shows that there was actually a sizable ramp which ran from Frederick Street parallel to Marsh Street so another bridge actually crossed the end of Newport Street before crossing the railway. These two pages of memories by a resident say that the last 25 yards of Marsh St was used by the firm PA Mudd for storage, which would tie in with this series of arches that can still be seem today.
Marsh Street / Forty Foot / Fox Heads Bridge, Middlesbrough
The north end of the bridge was actually a junction, with a right turn putting you onto Forty Foot Road and towards the Newport Rolling Mills, the retaining wall of this junction is still visible.
Marsh Street / Forty Foot / Fox Heads Bridge, Middlesbrough
A left turn was a smaller road which on the 1894 map leads into the Newport Iron Works. A contact at Network Rail informs me they have the structure listed as ‘Marsh Street; and the current metal deck dates from 1912.


Sharp-eyed reader Sean has also spotted that the childhood memories on the Communigate website also mention a “Stinky Pole” which could well be a stench pipe that’s possibly still there next to the bridge.

78 thoughts on “Marsh Street / Forty Foot / Fox Heads Bridge, Middlesbrough

  1. Thanks for posting this! I pass the bridge all the time and always wondered about its history and why it seemed to be truncated. I wondered if it had carried a railway once, but now I know the true story behind it!

  2. Always been Forty Foot Bridge to me. I used to use it when I was given the temporary job of doing some training for OH crane drivers at the Britannia CW Shed and I used to walk there from the bus stop.

  3. I’ve always known it as Forty Foot Bridge. a question came up at work the other day among a bunch of us Smoggies–why forty foot Bridge/Road??

  4. No ireal dea,, but one guess might have been that it was built deliberatley wide – 40 feet width – to accommodate wagons (steam / horse drawn ?) moving sections, etc, between plants sited along the road

  5. To a lot of railway enthusiasts its known as metz bridge, i`ve always been told thats what its called. The traveler site adjacent is called metz bridge site.

  6. I think you will find that Metz Bridge is, in fact to the east of the bridge featured by Chris. Today, it is the road leading off of the A66 North Road Interchange and which accesses the Riverside Park area via Riverside Park Road. However that may have not been the exact position of the original Metz Bridge as the whole area has been comprehensively reshaped by decades of highway engineering.

    However, the name raises interest in itself. Who or what was or is Metz, and what links the name to Middlesbrough ? Fist thought was that it some link to Metz in Alsace Lorraine, as this was one of the hearts of the French (and via occupation) German iron steelmaking in the 19th century. But some quick Googling came up with the wiki entry for a certain Auguste Metz who, along with his two brothersm was one of the founding fathers of the Luxembourg iron and steel industry with a number of plants in that area of the Duchy, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Metz)

    So did Auguste Metz or one of the later dynasty of the family have some input into Middlesbrough’s iron and steel industry ? I’m afraid I drew a blank there, but I am sure there are people out there who know far more. One for the local history societies perhaps.

  7. A further note following the last posting. I found some material on Luxembourg steel making which states that the firm founded by the Metz family (and which is now part of Alceler Mittal) was the first to have had licenses on the European mainland for the Gilchrist Thomas process in Bessemer converters as the local ore there (and in Belgium in general) was highly phosphoric, As Bolckow Vaughan were the world leaders in this technology, the links of Metz and Middlesbrough seem clearer.

  8. I cycle across this bridge everyday to and from work, and get to ride the helta skelter ramp that must have been attached in the 1960’s sometime to continue the cycle route.

  9. I have for along time believed that at the end of Marsh street there was a level crossing. That would explain why the ramp to the bridge was offset from Frederick street and harsh street came to an abrupt end

  10. I was born at 23 Prince Charles street in 1944 and I remember this bridge very well. I have still got the scar on my head were a brick was thrown from under the bridge, and I used to work at Dicky hills wire works, and I know the bridge as Forty foot bridge. Keep hunting. Tom G.

        • My mother was brought up in Prince Charles St no 32 Louisa Metcalfe until 1937, when she married. Sadly she is not now with us.

          • Hi Joseph I lived in prince Charles street half way down same side as the KENNY MURPHY the walkers lived next door to us then big billy Mathews we are the CONLIN

          • Josef your mother was born in number 34 Prince Charles Street naturally she lived and this is from your cousin try and find out who it is

          • Hi Joe this is your cousin Gerard Metcalfe hope you’re alright nice to speak to you but it was number 34

          • Hi Gerard,
            good to hear from you, hope life is good. Called big sister our sage “Pauline” and she informed on mam’s marriage certificate address is 32. Fancy a pint let me know?

          • Funny this, I am just looking at my dad’s marriage certificate and he lives at 12 Prince Charles Street so goggled and found this email trail, did anyone know him? He was 22 years old then (1940) Joseph Crozier

    • hello,please do you know any information about william mcdonald 21prince charles street he lived there in 1911 i am tracing my family history. thank you pauline

      • Pauline do you remember the Conlins from prince Charles street were lived opposite the simpsons called there dad swanie and there mam little red hen JC

        • Some Fox Heads names coming up. I remember Gerard Metcalfe Swanie and Little red hen Billy Boy Mathews Kenny and Jimbo Witherley. I lived in Newport Street.

  11. My mam & dad lived in unthank st opposite the gas tanks off cannon st.
    My dad was brought up on cannon st .Arthur st I think.I lived in unthank street until 1972 when they started to knock the houses down.We then moved to billingham.Oh the joys of an inside toilet& bathroom plus a garden .I used to play over that bridge even used to dig coal up and take it home .I went to st Patricks school .We called it the forty foot bridge…

      • Hi Ruth
        My mam & dad Kenny and Mavis goodman lived in number 49 unthank St .Or neighbours were joe ? The dart player .And a lady called tess on the other side .Do you remember Mrs macs shop on the corner of unthank & cannon St .My dad was related to the halls who lived on cannon St next door to St Patrick’s church ….

  12. Hi , my name is Ian and I was born in 35 Arthur st may 1945, I was delightted to see your posting . I live in western Canada now and if you wish to contact me to talk about old times I would love it. I am married with three children and feel a bit homesick. hope u reply Ian.

    • I lived at 35 Arthur st just round the corner near Freds shed.I Would like to know if you knew Teddy Collins He lived close to Cannon st

      • Hi Ian, sorry but the name doesn’t ring any bells. .However there used to be a gang of us that played on the big concrete blocks between us and Prince Charles St – it would be interesting if he remembers playing on them. We left Queen Mary Street in the early sixties when they finally demolished the place and moved up to Pallister Park. I know lots of my friends ended up at Park End and Berwick Hills

      • There was a Ted Collins lived in Stanley Street with his daughter Audrey Timney nee Collins.
        He used to live on the corner of Lower Croft Street/NewportStreet in the corner house. He’s been dead for years now as has his daughters.
        The family left there when it was compulsory purchased .

  13. My older brother Stan worked at either Dickie Hills or Brittania, but we always called it the “wire works”. Ironically Stan only had one hand from a birth defect and came through that job unscathed when most other two handed people working there had fingers missing from work accidents. I think he worked there in the 60/70s and maybe afterwards.

  14. Does anyone have a photograph of ayton sheet mills on forty foot road in 1950’s. My mam has dementia and I am creating a memory book for her and this was her first job when she left school and I can’t find a picture anywhere. Many thanks

  15. I remember this as the Forty Foot Rd Bridge. I was born in Fredrick St (Foxheads) I went to St Pstricks school opposite this bridge. It’s nice to see the photos of the area. Our kids don’t know they are born .

  16. I posted the original comments on the now defunct communigate site . The stench pole shown in the photo is what we used to call the “stinky pole”. The last 25 yards of Marsh Street was fenced off by a high metal fence different to the one visible in the photo and much higher and PA Mudd used the fenced off area for storing various things . The arches shown in the photo . I think . were the supports which bore the weight of the bridge.I was born on Newport St and the bridge and its environs were our play ground

  17. I lived in Bulmer st No 1 directly behind Fox heads. Marsh RD .For those that don’t know , it was called Fox heads because at the top right and left corner above the front door was a fox’s head in different poses. When they where pulling it all down I made enquires to get one or two heads but was told they where all going to America

    • I was born and bred in Fox heads and the figures in my street where gargoyles as Marsh Street was not part of Fox heads fox heads consisted of five streets Queen Mary Street Prince Childs Street half the street Frederick Street running through the middle and Newport Street at the bottom near the railway lineThe houses in the streets were built by Fox and Head steelmakers. And the bridge was always known as fox heads bridge which Had a stairway running up to the bridge from Newport Street and the stinky Pole was outside the flour Mill at the bottom of marsh st. John

      • Hi John I am back from the gas tanks it woz QUEEN MARY STREET PRINCE CHARLES STREET ARTHUR STREET THEN MASRSH ROAD were st pats school woz JIM

        • Jimmy there were five streets in Fox heads Queen Mary Street prince Giles Street half the street Frederick Street running through the middle new Park Street at the bottom and Saint Patricks school was in March Street which was the senior school the junior school was in the Lawson Street G a.m.

          • Re-writing Jimmy there were five Street and Fox heads Queen Mary Street Prince Charles Street Frederick Street which runs through the middle and Newport Street at the bottom and Saint Patrick school was in Marsh Street not in Marsh Road the junior school was in the Lawson Street

          • It woz fox head bridge going down to forty foot road to all the works I work’t dorman long down there JIM

      • I was born in Newport St and often accessed the bridge via the steps at the end of Newport St. I was born in 1944 and I have no recollection of a flour mill at the bridge end of Marsh St . There was a firm of steel fabricators called PA Mudd ( lionweld) at the end of Marsh St opposite the bridge and abutting the railway

          • I remember the building on the corner of Marsh St and Marsh Rd . I never thought it was a flour mill . I had no idea what the function of that building was . I seem to remember it being derelict . Perhaps my memory is playing tricks

  18. Hi I lived in Prince Charles street from 1940 till 1960 and work’ t in 3 and 4 mill at the bottom of the 40 foot road also there the wire works Ayton sheet works and shaws foundry

  19. Hi I was born in Queen Mary St and attended St Pauls School (Mrs Remington class). My mates Raymond Pearce, Raymond Betts and I spent many an hour playing on the “Metz bridge” – sliding down the concrete troughs that ran down the bridge walls. I got many a good hiding for wearing holes in my trousers. I often wonder what became of Raymond Betts. Sadly Raymond Pearce died with his sister Margery in the Excelsior Hotel fire

  20. I remember it well like a lot of others, I to play there a lot I was born just of cannon st in 1953 were I lived with my man dad and4 brothers and 2 sisters Loved my time there. I am 62 years old now a lot of you may know me hope You do ok and thanks for reading this

  21. Jimmy there were five streets in Fox heads Queen Mary Street prints Charles Street Frederick Street which runs through the middle of those three streets and Newport Street at the bottom next to the railway lines between the gas tank gates and Fox Heads Bridge and Saint Patrick school was in MarshStreet as you know Jimmy you just got the road and street mixed up Jimmy

  22. Hi, I was 16 years old in 1966 working for tw ward of Sheffield demolishing gjers mills ,I was cabin lad on site running back and forth to Newbolds on Newport Road for pies. New Fred and George Hall of cannon street,also a grand old fellow Mr Tommy cronin.im sure he had a son called Tommy also
    I went on to be in charge of demolishing britannia, clay lane, cargo fleet sheds and ovens, the cinter plant and my greatest feat dropping the two big cranes on cargo fleet wharf with a fine colleague.
    Also in charge of demolishing piece by piece by hand the middle blast furnace on the bessemer manganese plant including the footbridge from the furnace to the ovens,they said it couldn’t be done
    a grand old fellow named Charlie was in charge of the furnaces at the time
    Great times

  23. I have just found d this site and it’s great I lived on Marsh street across from the the coal yard, and a short walk from Metz Bridge is I think the name was.

  24. Do any one remember black Edmond the coal merchant next to ST PATS school were we went with how prams for two stone of coal in the 1940

    • Jimmy my mother and father lived in Prince Charles Street but I lived with my mothers two brothers and sister in passes Arthur st and here is a clue jimmy my son and I use to get lice cream of your van on trimdon ave

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