Along the Tame and its tributaries were a number of water powered mills, and near Wednesbury Bridge was one such mill, called Wednesbury Mill (or Wednesbury Bridge Mill), which was an important site in iron making and in forging gun barrels. Gun barrel making was, in the late 1700s, a really important part of Wednesbury industry, and gun barrel making led onto Wednesbury’s famous trade of tube making.
Although the mill has gone, the bridge stands today, or at least the one that was built in 1826, towards the end of the construction of the London to Holyhead Road, and overseen by the renowned engineer Thomas Telford. Remnants of an older bridge still exist beneath, and the first bridge built here seems to be more-or-less contemporary with the iron forge, both appearing in the 17th century. If the mill itself still stood it would be an important historical artefact, representing the beginnings of the iron industry in the Black Country.
By 1761 the mill was in the hands of John Wood who obtained a patent that year for making a new kind of malleable iron from pig iron, which was well regarded by the local gun barrel makers, as it eliminated the need to make iron using charcoal, producing a much better quality product. Wood did well from his patent and “lived in great splendour at Wednesbury, keeping his hunting stables, and kennels for a pack of hounds there”.
In 1785 Wednesbury Mill was one of only four iron forges in Wednesbury, two others were water powered, Wednesbury Forge on the Tame and Sparrow’s Forge, just off the other Tame (Willenhall Brook), and the other, Adam’s Forge, was horse powered. So the river Tame and its tributaries were exceptionally important in the town’s early industry.
The mill closed in 1885 and converted back to grinding corn.