Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,352 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge

From Graces Guide
1. 2017

Sutton Weaver, near Frodsham, Cheshire

Carries the A56 over the River Weaver.

Opened in 1926. Designed by Colonel John Arthur Saner. Built by Joseph Parks and Son of Northwich, replacing an earlier swing bridge built in 1872.

It is one of five large swing bridges taking public roads across the River Weaver. The others are:-

Two-thirds of the weight of the steelwork is accommodated by a float, leaving the remainder to be supported by 114 rollers. The 'float' or 'pontoon' is a riveted cylindrical steel tank attached to the underside of the bridge, contained within the cylindrical concrete caisson which supports the roller ring. The cylindrical tank is 35 ft diameter and about 17 ft deep, with a convex floor. It sits within the water-filled chamer of the concrete caisson, whose inside diameter is 40 ft and the depth about 20 ft. In photo 2 the outside and the top of the caisson can be seen, but the float is concealed within. A similar arrangement is used on the later Acton Bridge Swing Bridge. The earlier Northwich Town Swing Bridge has a different arrangement, its roller path being supported by a triangular frame supported at three points on the concrete caisson, with the top of the pontoon and the water in the caisson being exposed to view.

The bridge is turned by an electric motor acting on a wire rope. The rope can be seen in photos 2 & 3.

For more information see Movable Bridges in the British Isles website and Sutton Weaver website.

The bridge recently underwent major refurbishment, completed in 2014.

1926 'SUTTON WEAVER'S NEW BRIDGE. ..... A remarkably fine electrically-worked swing bridge has just been completed to replace the old swing bridge over the River Weaver at Sutton Weaver, and it is a "feather in the cap" of Col. J. A. Saner, V.D.. M.Inst.C.E., M.I.T. (the engineer and general manager to the Weaver Navigation Trustees) by whom it was designed, and by all concerned in its construction. The increase in transport on the Runcorn-Frodsham road made it imperative that a bridge of bigger dimensions and greater carrying power should be substituted for the old bridge, which had been in use since, and consisted of two lattice girders forming fences, with two central longitudinal plate girders carrying a plank floor, the whole being connected together by diaphragm plate and supported when swinging with tie-rods which passed over inverted triangular frames. The total width of the old bridge was about 14 feet and length about 75 feet, the total weight about 20 tons, the whole being balanced on a pivot was turned by hand, one man being able to operate under normal conditions.
The new bridge is easily dscribed in schedule form but consists of steel N-trussed girders having parabolic top booms with box-form cross-girders and troughs carrying a rock asphalt floor, with two footpaths being placed outside the main girders. The swinging portion rests on a "live" ring of rollers and partly on a cylindrical pontoon which is immersed under the centre of gravity. The pontoon turns with the bridge and relieves the rollers of nearly two-thirds of the weight. The bridge can be swung through an arc of 100 degrees in about 60 seconds by means of a winch operated by electricity supplied by the Mersey Power Co. from the Runcorn station at 440 volt., A.C. 3 phase 50 periods. The following are principal dimensions, etc:- Length of swinging portion, 150ft.; width of swinging portion, 44ft.; width between main girders, 28ft.; clear width of roadway, 26ft 8in.; clear height under portal girder, 20ft.; clear width of footpaths, each 5ft.; clear width of waterway, 48ft. 6in.; clear headway under bridge, 10ft.; clear span of bridge. 61ft.; width of towing under bridge, 8ft.; swinging weight of bridge and pontoon, 519 tons; total weight of steel and ironwork. 420 tons; submerged depth of pontoon, 12ft. 6in.; diameter of pontoon, 35ft.; weight of pontoon, 33 tons; diameter of roller path, 42ft. 6in.; number of rollers, 114; weight on rollers 1-3/5th tons per roller, total 189 tons; operating motors — swinging, 1-30 B.H.P., wedges 2-10 B.H.P.; concrete in pontoon chamber, 707 cubic yards; excavation in pontoon chamber, 1,407 cubic yards; average electrical current consumed for one complete operation, .52 of a unit. Note, a complete operation include withdrawing both sets of wedges, opening and closing bridge, and replacing both sets of wedges); average current consumed for lighting, 0.25 of a unit per hour; average number of swings per day, 17.
A pair of heavy iron gates is provided at each end to close the roadway when the bridge is open. Each pair is connected by underground gearing, and being hung on ball bearings can be easily manipulated. The roadway is lighted by electric light standards placed at the ends of the bridge. The red and green signal lamps burn paraffin oil.
The bridge has been designed of sufficient strength to allow for the standard loading laid down by the Ministry of Transport which provides for a total distributed load of 120 tons, the maximum axle load being 15 tons. The ecavation, concreting, erection of abutments and operating cabin, and removal of old bridge have been done by the Weaver Trustees' own staff. The steel piling for the coffer dam was supplied and driven by the British Steel Piling Company of London. The contractors for the steel and ironwork were Messrs. Joseph Parks and Son, Wadebrook Steelworks, Northwich, who sub-let the electrical machinery to Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company, Trafford Park, and also sublet the rock asphalt roadway which was supplied and laid by the Pennmaenmawr and Trinidad Lake Asphalt of Liverpool. The bridge-tenders' cottages were built by Messrs. J. C. Davies and Co., Frodsham. The whole of the work was carried out under the supervision of and in acccordance with drawings and specifications prepared by Colonel Saner, and the approach roads have been widened and improved by the Cheshire County Council under the supervision of Mr. Wm. Holland, the county surveyor.'[1]

c.1900 photo of the old swing bridge here.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Trancribed from the Crewe Chronicle - Saturday 21 August 1926, via the British Newspaper Archive (