Barton Swing Bridge
Barton Road, Barton upon Irwell, Greater Manchester, UK
Sir Edward Leader Williams
Binnie, Deacon & Gourlay
William Henry Hunter
1893 - 1st January 1894
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
Barton Swing Bridge carries the B5211 over the Manchester Ship Canal between Barton upon Irwell on the north bank and Dumplington on the south bank. It swings about its centre line from an artificial island that it shares with the Barton Swing Aqueduct. Both are Grade II* listed.
Edward Leader Williams (1828-1910) was the engineer for the Manchester Ship Canal, his scheme having been selected by James Abernethy in 1882 from three competing designs. Abernethy (1814-1896) was eventually appointed consulting engineer to the scheme and visited it monthly until 1893. Barton swing bridge is one of seven large such bridges designed by Williams for the project to accommodate roads along the 26 mile canal route. The design engineer was William Henry Hunter, who also worked on the adjacent swing aqueduct.
The island on which both structures are founded is some 122m long and 9m wide — a long thin strip with rounded ends. The swing bridge is at the west (downstream) end. In between it and the swing aqueduct is a square brick four-storey control tower that operates both.
The bridge is 59.3m long, with a two-lane roadway 5.6m wide, and weighs 660 tonnes. Its swing section consists of a steel bowstring arch of lattice girders each side of the carriageway. The deck rests on an annular girder 9.5m in diameter. There are gates at both ends of the bridge.
The pivot point of the bridge is mounted on a central pier is founded in concrete, with 64 cast iron rollers that connect to the annular girder via a toothed rack. The swing mechanism is driven by hydraulic pinions. All the other swing road bridges on the canal are rotated from one end, rather than centrally.
The structure's electrical cabling was replaced between August 2008 and January 2009, during which time the bridge was closed to road traffic. The bridge opens up to 14 times a day to allow ships to pass to and from Manchester’s docks.
Steelwork: Andrew Handyside & Co Ltd
Hydraulic equipment: Armstrong Mitchell & Co
"A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester"
by Robina McNeil and Michael Nevell
Association for Industrial Archaeology, 2000