Friday 2 August 2013

Swing Time

Excavating through the Cheshire countryside to build the Manchester Ship Canal between 1887 and 1894 involved repeatedly slicing through existing lines of communication – all of which had to be maintained. With a need to provide clearance for ocean-going shipping the favoured solution for roads was the provision of swing-bridges to allow free passage with the minimum of delay. In all there were six plus an audacious swing-aqueduct that carried the Bridgewater Canal across the waterway at Barton. The Barton Road and Barton Canal swing-bridges pivot on an artificial island in the canal – all the other swing-bridges pivot on the bank. They are all very similar in design and with a single exception they pivot on the north bank. Designed to prioritise the needs of shipping over those of road traffic, they must be a constant source of irritation to road users kept waiting while cumbersome ships pass slowly by. What we see in these photographs are detached sections of roadway, temporarily devoid of traffic and rotated through 90 degrees. The Barton Aqueduct is laden with some 800 tonnes of water from the Bridgewater Canal. The photographs that follow show all the swing-bridges on the Manchester Ship Canal from east to west, bracketed by a pair of vintage postcard views. 

Barton Aqueduct

Barton Road Swing Bridge

Knutsford Road Swing Bridge

London Road Swing Bridge

Chester Road Swing Bridge

Moore Lane Swing Bridge

Old Quay Swing Bridge

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