The Thomas Brassey Bridge
The Thomas Brassey's Bridge
Mr Thomas Brassey
View from one side of the Bridge
View from one side of the Bridge
Thomas Brassey (1805 - 1870) was a renowned Victorian engineer.  His small civil engineering business
branched out into a whole range of different areas from the one of predominately working on land
surveying.  He owned and managed brick works and sand and stone quarries in the Wirral, and much of
his business growth was in the Birkenhead area.  He also supplied many of the bricks for the emerging
Liverpool.  Brassey was innovative in the way in which he handled the materials and he 'palatted', (to
use a modern term), his bricks so as to avert the damage and breakages caused by the tipping of
wagon loads of them.  He also designed a 'gravity train', that ran from the brick works and stone quarry
site down to the port, and the empty carriages were then horse drawn back to the works, thus saving
considerable time and effort.

His earliest contracts were on Merseyside, notably supplying bricks for the Customs House in Liverpool
and his first venture into the realm of civil engineering involved the building of the a four mile stretch of
the New Chester Road at
Branborough, ( recorded by that name but in reality Bromborough!) in 1834.  It
was during this stage of his life that he first met another of the great engineers of the day, George
Stephenson, who was looking for stone for the construction of the Sankey viaduct on the Manchester to
Liverpool railway.  This was to be the first railway for passenger traffic that was ever constructed in the
world.  George Stephenson met Thomas Brassey at his
Storeton Quarry and it would appear that from
this meeting Thomas Brassey was encouraged to enter into the emerging world of railway building.  By
1848, Brassey, once a
Claughton resident, had built three quarters of the French railway system.  In
Saughall Massey Thomas Brassey claimed built a small bridge across the arrowe brook in order to help
drain the marshy area and allow easier transportation.  In those days wrecking at certain points of the
Wirral was still ongoing and the authorities has a hard time catching up with the criminals due to poor
transportation and thick marshy land.  In 2007 and 137 years after his death, English Heritage & Wirral
Borough Council held a small ceremony in Saughall Massie and awarded the Saughall Massie Bridge that
leads into the conservation area, a Grade II Listed status.  A special plaque commemorating the event
was unveiled at the time.  The bridge is the first constructed by the per-eminent Victorian civil
engineering contractor and thus should be treated as a special object within Wirral.

In their award documents to the Saughall Massie Village Conservation Area Society, it stated:
"As the starting point for Thomas Brassey's illustrious career, Saughall Massie Bridge is of significant national
importance and therefore merits listing."

At the peak of his success he had built thousands of miles of railways in nine other European countries
as well as India, Australia, Mauritius, Canada and South America. Birkenhead-based, Brassey was
awarded the Legion of Honour by France, Order of St Maurice & St Lazarus from Italy and helped open
up the continents. Such honours befit a man termed as "One of the great unsung heroes of the railway
age"  Brassey was perhaps the most important civil engineering contractor in the world in the
nineteenth century, building railways in Britain, Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America." -- ICE