Henry Orlando Bridgeman
Henry Orlando Bridgeman was born on 26 January 1825 to a well-connected Shropshire family. His father, the Rev. Henry Edmund Bridgeman, was the fourth son of Orlando Bridgeman, 1st Earl of Bradford in the County of Shropshire. His cousin, also named Orlando Bridgeman, was 3rd Earl of Bradford as well as being MP for Shropshire South, a government minister, and Lord Lieutenant of the county.
Henry Orlando Bridgeman entered a career in civil engineering, working on the Syston & Peterborough Railway, and in 1848 was first employed by John Fowler as Resident Engineer on the Lincoln branch of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. Presumably it was his relationship with Fowler, rather than his local connections, which led to his employment by Fowler as Resident Engineer on the Severn Valley Railway.
In his capacity as Resident Engineer, Bridgeman was responsible for day-to-day oversight of construction work on the line by Thomas Brassey. He also laid the foundation stone of Victoria Bridge, in a ceremony held on 24 November 1859. During the ceremony a glass bottle was deposited under the foundation stone, containing silver and copper coins and a paper signed by the principal persons present. The paper read:
- The foundation stone of this bridge was laid by Henry Orlando Bridgman (sic) Esq., C.E., resident engineer on the 24th day of November, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty Nine, and the twenty third year of the Reign of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria.
- The arch of this bridge is to be constructed principally of cast iron – 200 feet span – and up to the present time, will be the largest cast-iron arch constructed in these kingdoms. John Fowler Esq., engineer-in-chief, London. Messrs. Brassey, Peto and Betts, contractors, also of London.
- The railway works were commenced in the autumn of 1858, and are expected to be completed in the spring of 1861. The railway commences at Shrewsbury, and terminates at the Hartlebury Station of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, a distance of 40 miles.
Henry Orlando Bridgeman died on 14 June 1879.