Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 142,963 pages of information and 228,875 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Irwell Bridge (Liverpool and Manchester Railway)

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Viewed from Salford bank of the Irwell, before demolition of the iron bridge
The upstream face of the bridge seen beyond the new Ordsall Chord bridge, January 2018

Crosses the River Irwell between Manchester and Salford, near Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

This two-span skew masonry arch bridge was built in 1830 to carry the Liverpool and Manchester Railway over the River Irwell into the heart of Manchester. The bridge was largely obscured by two later bridges built on either side. One of these is a two-span masonry bridge built in 1849 close to the south side to carry the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway.

The other was a wrought iron plate girder bridge built in 1869, with an iron column providing an intermediate support to the northern girder (see photo). Part of the parapet of the 1830 bridge was cut away to partially support the southern girder. The girder bridge was removed in 2016 as part of the new Ordsall Chord works. The 1830 bridge is being restored.

Most of the above information is drawn from the Engineering Timelines website, where much more information may be found[1].

Recent cleaning of the stonework revealed the initials 'J D' carved on the keystone of the western arch. 'J D' was John Dixon, the resident engineer on the eastern half of the railway, who was responsible for building the bridge. A keystone on the other arch has the initials 'G S' for George Stephenson, chief engineer.[2]

After crossing the river into Manchester, the railway crossed Water Street by the iron bridge shown here (since demolished).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Engineering Timelines website - River Irwell Bridge (L&MR)
  2. [2] Merseyside Industrial Heritage Society - information from Norman Redhead