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Do you remember Dudley Weighbridge Office in the 1950s?

dudley weighbridge Office

12 November 2019

Black Country Living Museum is looking for memories from the 1950s of the Dudley Weighbridge as part of its ambitious new development project BCLM: Forging Ahead. The weighbridge office will be recreated and set in the 1950s as part of the new 1940s to 1960s street providing the opportunity for visitors to learn about public weighbridges and how they worked.

Originally sited in Dudley’s bustling Market Place, the weighbridge was later moved to Stone Street, opposite the Art Gallery and Museum next to the trolleybus stops. It was used to provide accurate measurements for public and commercial vehicles.

The weighbridge office is an unusual Victorian pre-fabricated building, constructed from panels of cast-iron bolted together. It may have been made locally, although a company name has yet to be linked to its manufacture. The mechanism and plate were made by W & T Avery Ltd in Smethwick.

Its main function was to weigh vehicles and objects but in 1949 it was used to weigh Meena the elephant from Dudley Zoo. The weighbridge declined in use during the 1960s; Dudley Council records note that in 1964 its annual income was £82 with the cost of repairs exceeding this amount. In 1967 the monthly income for January was only 14 shillings and 4 pence and the decision was made to close it.
The libraries and arts committee along with Richard Traves, curator of Dudley’s proposed industrial museum, stepped in. Traves recognised the value of the small Victorian pre-fab, saying that it was ‘a fine example of early prefabrication’. After being in use for almost a century it was dismantled and transferred to what has become the Black Country Living Museum, making the weighbridge office one of the Museum’s first acquisitions.

The Turnpike Act of 1741 permitted road trustees to erect “any crane, machine, or engine which they shall judge proper for the weighing of carts, waggons and other carriages” at toll gates. The income from this was used to pay for road repairs. This may have encouraged people like John Wyatt, who went to work for Matthew Boulton at the Soho Manufactory in Birmingham, to invent a weighing machine that improved on existing designs. Electronic weighbridges are still widely used as they are a quick and accurate way of measuring vehicle and load weights.

To help us in our recreation, we would love to talk to anyone with memories of the weighbridge. Do you remember the Dudley Weighbridge? Did you work in the Weighbridge Office, or ever use the service? Do you remember Meena the elephant being weighed in 1949? Do you know who made the Victorian pre-fab building?

Please get in touch with us by emailing collections@bclm.com or call 0121 557 9643.

For more information about BCLM: Forging Ahead, please visit www.bclm.com/forgingahead

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