Fairfield Street Bridge, M&BR
Fairfield Street, near Piccadilly Station, Manchester, UK
George Watson Buck
8th May 1842, 1958 - 1959
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
Piccadilly Station, then called Manchester Store Street, was the terminus for the Manchester & Birmingham Railway, an early standard gauge line that is now part of the West Coast Main Line. This skew bridge (CMP2) over Fairfield Street carried the railway into the station, where it joined the Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway. Its cast iron arches are now encased in concrete.
George Buck's original bridge construction consists of ten cast iron arch ribs with a rise of 3.65m set on a skew span of 39.1m, with a square span of 14.7m. Each rib has its own abutments. The bridge formed part of a long brick arch viaduct, which was topped with open stonework parapets.
Buck was chief engineer for the Manchester & Birmingham Railway, in association with Robert Stephenson. In 1839 he wrote a book on skew bridges and this became the standard textbook on the subject, last appearing in print in 1895.
In about 1866, when Piccadilly Station was enlarged, three skewed wrought iron plate girders were added to the eastern side of the bridge. A further three skewed wrought iron plate girders were added some 3m from the eastern side of the first set of plate girders. There are also transverse girders, supporting longitudinal joists with iron arch plates.
Around 1958-59, the ten cast iron arches and their spandrels were encased in concrete as part of British Railís strengthening of structures along the line to allow for overhead 25kV electrification. The concrete sections have tapering cross-sections and vertical joints at mid span.
The western composite structure carries the main line, while the eastern three plate girders carry tracks to the goods yard.
Research: PD and AJD