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 163,372 pages of information and 245,906 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.

Hayhurst Bridge

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in Northwich, Cheshire

It is one of five large swing bridges taking roads across the River Weaver. In this case the road is the A5509. The others are:-

It was opened to the public by December 1898[1], although it was not operable electrically until May 1899. Initially it was called the Navigation Bridge.

Designed by John Arthur Saner, and built by Andrew Handyside and Co in 1899. This, and its near twin, the Northwich Town Swing Bridge, are 'floating' swing bridges in Britain, a large proportion of the weight being supported by a cylindrical buoyancy tank in a water-filled concrete chamber. The Town Bridge, located 1/3 mile downstream, has the same design of girders, but the support arrangements are very different. They are believed to have been the earliest floating swing bridges in Britain, but two examples had been built by James Price in Ireland in in 1873.

Both bridges can be crossed on foot on a circular walk which also takes in the small marina, formerly a boatyard.

1899 'The work of completing the Northwich swing bridges has been pushed on with during the year — that adjacent to the head offices called Navigation bridge having been placed in full working order in February last; while the new town bridge has been turned by hand for the first time, and is expected to be in complete working order very shortly. The old town bridge belonging to the trustees, for which the new swing bridge has been substituted, was handed over to the County Council by arrangement last year, when the trustees agreed at the combined request of the County Council and the Urban District Council, respectively, to take down, remove, and place it over the river Dane, near Cross-street, the expense of the work (which was completed in June, 1899) being jointly borne by the two Councils. It is now known as the Victoria bridge. ... New works:— The Navigation Bridge, Northwich, has been fitted with the electrical machinery, and has been successfully operated some 100 times by day and night. On November 14th. 1898, the road traffic was suspended over the old Town Bridge, Northwich, and work of removal commenced. Owing, however, to a subsidence in Leftwich-road, there was some delay in getting fairly to work. The bridge was, however, eventually removed and the pontoon chamber, &c. prepared and handed over to the outractors at Whitsuntide. Since then, the bridge has been so far completed as to enable it to be turned by hand on the 14th inst., or exactly 12 months after the first closing of the old bridge. The electric machinery will very shortly be ready, and in all probability the bridge will be sufficiently in order to be utilised for road traffic before the annual meeting. On the completion of these bridges, the only "bar" preventing masted vessels and steam barges of much greater capacity than those now using the river reaching Winsford will be Hartford Bridge. .... ;[2]

1899 'THE NEW SWING BRIDGE, NORTHWICH. — Early on Sunday morning, before any traffic was about, the electrical machinery for actuating the wedges and turning the Navigation Bridge erected by the Weaver Trustees was prelimimarily tested, with highly satisfactory results, by the contractors — Messrs Mather and Platt, of Manchester — in the presence of Mr.J. A. Saner, the engineer to the trustees, who is responsible for the works. This is the first instance in this country of a swing bridge being actuated by electric power, and although the whole design, not only of the bridge itself, which is partially water borne on a circular pontoon, but also the machinery, is entirely novel, the details have been so carried out that one or two minor adjustments are only necessary before ths will be ready for practical use. As the new Town Bridge and its machinery is to be a facsimile of the Navigation Bridge, the people of Northwich need have no fear of undue delays or inconvenience when that work is also in operation. The electric current is taken from the Electric Supply Company's mains, whose motive power is obtained from gas generated the Mond process; the whole installation, therefore, bristles with novelties, and Northwich and the Weaver Trustees are to be congratulated on being well to the front in the application of recent science to practical purposes.'[3]

1898 photo of one of the quadrant buoyancy tanks here.

1932 'The Ministry of Transport had agreed to make a grant towards the cost of strengthening the Hayhurst-street bridge to modern road requirements.'[4]. A 1932 drawing by J. A. Saner, entitled 'Proposed stregthening of Navigation (Hayhurst Street) Bridge'[5] shows the arrangement of the supports. The roller track was supported by a circular frame from which projected seven arms. The ends of these arms were supported by screw jacks on cylindrical cast iron piles. Saner's modification involved introducing a square frame below the circular frame, supporting at four places. The square frame was supported at its corners by four of the cast iron piles, but their height had to be reduced to accommodate the frame's 24" deep RSJs. The light grey square frame, jacks, and cast iron piles can be seen in photo 2.

This photograph shows that at some point a gear ring has been fitted to turn the bridge.[6]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Northwich Guardian - Saturday 10 December 1898
  2. Northwich Guardian - Friday 24 November 1899
  3. Northwich Guardian - Wednesday 17 May 1899
  4. Cheshire Observer, 3 December 1932
  5. River Weaver Navigation Drawing No. 1837, 'Northwich Swing Bridges. Proposed strengthening of Navigation (Hayhurst Street) Bridge'. Drawing is in the Canal & River Trust National Waterways Archives at Ellesmere Port
  6. [1] British Listed Buildings website