Hama-Nakatsu Bridge (a few minutes walk from Nakatsu station on the Hankyu railway line), in the Kansai area of Japan. The main girder (70ft truss) of this truss bridge was manufactured in England by the Darlington Iron Co. in 1873 (Meiji 6).

Two views of the bridge at its town end.

A total of 39 stations (78 main girders) were imported to bridge the three large rivers that lie between Osaka and Kobe. It is certain that the main girder in this photo is one of these 78.

Looking outwards again, and ready to cross, though not by trains now: the bridge was repurposed as a road bridge early in the last century.

The Darlington firm was at the height of its productivity in the early 1870s: "The works, with 198 puddling furnaces, was the largest of its kind in the north of England or south Wales" ("Darlington Iron Co."). From the same source in Grace's Guide, we learn that by 1875, it was completely focussed on providing iron rails, of which it was probably the main supplier in the country. Exports to India, America and Russia are mentioned here, but it seems Japan should have been added to the list.

Photographs and text by Shuichi Okada, with a comment on the Darlington company added by JB. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


"Darlington Iron Co." website">Grace's Guide to British Industrial Histroy. Web. 6 March 2021.

National Archives of Japan (digital, with English version).

Created 6 March 2021