Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

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.

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.

Warrington Transporter Bridge

From Graces Guide
1908. The first transporter bridge at Warrington. Subsequently demolished

The Warrington Transporter Bridge (or Bank Quay Transporter Bridge) across the River Mersey is a steel transporter bridge.

The present bridge at this location was built in 1915, supplementing a smaller capacity transporter bridge opened in 1908.

Thomas Piggott and Co won the intial design competition, and were awarded the construction contract. Valuable advice on structural design was provided by Professor Alexander, and also by Merriman and Jacoby. The requirement was to convey a load of 2.5 tons across the 250ft. span at 6 mph.[1]

The present bridge has a span of 200 feet. It is 30 feet wide, and is 76 feet above high water level, with an overall length of 339 feet. It was designed by William Henry Hunter, and built by William Arrol and Co. It is privately owned and was built to connect the two parts of the large chemical and soap works of Joseph Crosfield and Sons. It was originally used to carry rail vehicles up to 18 tons in weight, and converted for road vehicles in 1940. In 1953 it was modified to carry loads up to 30 tons.

Although it has been out of use since circa 1964, it is still extant. However, although it is a listed structure, it is at risk of 'demolition by neglect'. A group has been established in the hope of preserving the bridge, called 'Save Warrington Transporter Bridge'[2]

1956 Account: ' ..... The story goes back to 1905, when a cement plant was established on the Cheshire bank, and there was the continual problem of conveying the finished product to the Lancashire side. To simplify the problem, the firm commissioned the firm of Messrs. Thomas Piggott & Co., of Birmingham to build what was then a somewhat revolutionary type of bridge across the river.
It was in effect a suspension bridge with a trolley driven by a continuous cable. There was no car, but a sling was used to whisk cement from one side of the river to the other. That bridge is no longer used for its original purpose, but is still there to carry pipelines and electric cables across the river.
The experience of transporter bridges was evidently sufficient to inspire the management as early as 1910 to consider another bridge to convey personnel and railway wagons to the site available for development on the south bank.
The design was entrusted to a Manchester architect, Mr. W. Henry Hunter, and the bridge was built by Sir William Arroll, of Glasgow, who was also responsible for the steelwork on the Widnes bridge.
The work was superintended by Messrs. Crosfield's own engineers. By 1915 the bridge was complete. Unlike the Widnes Transporter, which is a Suspension bridge, the Crosfields bridge was a simple box girder cantilevered at both ends.
The span between the towers is 227 feet — compared with the 1,000 feet of the Widnes bridge and the overall length, including the cantilevers, is 339 feet. The clearance between the underside of the bridge and high water level is 75 feet. The cantilevers project for 56 feet at either side. The bridge portion, which is 20 feet wide, is supported by four towers, two at each side of the river, forming an arch over the docks. Both docks are brickfaced and are very simple in lay-out, with only a rail at each side for protection. Two rails run along the length of the boom and form a track for the trolley which runs on 32 wheels, 16 at each side, which are spaced equidistant.
The car, which is suspended on steel cables, is 20 feet wide and 30 feet long, and 20 feet above the deck is a steel mesh to protect the occupants from anything which might fall from above.
Its capacity is 35 tons — though in practice this can rarely be achieved because of its size. Normally a loaded railway wagon or an eight-wheeled tanker is the biggest load it has to carry. Only one vehicle at a time can be carried. The trolley is driven backwards and forwards on a continuous haulage rope via a friction drum. There is a 40h.p. electric motor at the extreme end of both cantilevers, but only one motor is in use at a time. The second motor is for emergency or breakdown use.
The trolley wheels are self-lubricating, and give little trouble on that score, but have steel tyres which need to be frequently changed. The wheels are mounted on to the trolley by means of stub axles. For many years, only railway wagons were carried across the river, for the simple reason that permission could not be obtained to construct a road for vehicles. During the war this was changed, and in 1953 arrangements were made for the car to be extended to accommodate larger tankers.
Because of the very considerable importance of the transporter link, the work had to be carried out during the annual holidays. Messrs. Croshelds have long adopted the practice of shutting down the Lancashire and Cheshire works at different times, and the time of the Cheshire works shut-down was chosen. The engineers. Messrs. Arrols, had from Friday until a week the following Monday to carry out the alteration. As it happened, the parts had already been prefabricated, but placing them in position in the given time was a bit of a rush.
Though a private bridge, it is extremely busy. In fact, in an average day it conveys about 100 road vehicles and 20 railway wagons from one side to the other, and only one vehicle at a time is possible, it appears to be working continuously.
Unlike the Widnes bridge, the Crosfields Transporter is in very good condition, and the engineers consider that it has an indefinite future life. It is not the only way across the river, however. Personnel are normally carried by steam ferry. There are twin sets of landing stages, and the ferry is kept at it all the working day. Incidentally, the Cheshire side of the river is known as 'Tongue Island" because of its shape. It is not really an island, but there no approach to it by road.'[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer, 27 March 1908, p.328ff.
  2. [2] 'Save Warrington Transporter Bridge' Facebook pages
  3. Runcorn Weekly News, 17 August 1956