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Kingsferry Vertical Lift Bridge
River Swale, Sheppey Way, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK
Kingsferry Vertical Lift Bridge
associated engineer
Mott Hay & Anderson
date  December 1957 - 20th April 1960
era  Modern  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  TQ913693
ICE reference number  HEW 34
photo  PHEW
A fully operational road, rail and pedestrian lift bridge across the tidal River Swale to the Isle of Sheppey, and the port of Sheerness. It has six fixed spans, three each side of the lifting span, which provides a navigable passage almost 27.5m wide.
The first bridge on the site was a bascule bridge built in 1860 by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. Its opening span was replaced by a Scherzer rolling lift bridge in 1904. This lasted up until the construction of the present bridge, which was the only link to the mainland until the adjacent Sheppey Crossing (A249) road bridge opened in 2006.
Kingsferry Vertical Lift Bridge carries a 7.3m wide single carriageway two-lane road, a 1.8m footway and a single-track electrified railway line. The railway limited the bridge’s maximum gradient and the low-lying river banks determined its elevation.
The bridge is distinctive, with four tapering reinforced concrete towers rising to 31.5m above the main pier level. The cylindrical piers supporting the towers are 17.1m apart and 9.75m in diameter. They are also of reinforced concrete, set down 15.2m into blue clay foundations. Towers and piers are hollow to accommodate the lifting gear. A control cabin and three storage areas are located in the bases of the towers.
The towers support the 37.5m long 15.2m wide lifting span, which is made of riveted steel girders with welded stringers acting together with the deck. This deck is in three sections — 180mm thick reinforced concrete under the roadway, steel beneath the footpath and lengthwise timber beams with steel decking under the railway.
The lifting span is driven by two electric motors and balanced by four 112 tonne counterweights that rise to 29m above mean water level. Each counterweight hangs from six wire ropes passing over steel sheaves 1.7m in diameter at the tops of the towers. Guide rails for the ropes are located on the inner faces of the towers. The lifting span is fitted with locating devices to align the rail track, and there is a 40kW diesel standby generating set in case of power failure.
The moveable span is flanked by three fixed spans (24.4m, 26.2m and 24.4m) of concrete deck over steel girders. The deck is supported on concrete piers 1.2m in diameter, sitting on bases 3m in diameter, connected by a concrete capping beam 4.6m deep, 1.5m wide and 17.4m long.
The ends of the bridge are connected to 53.3m hollow concrete box abutments, the mainland one of which has a road underbridge. The abutments are founded on bored piles 405mm in diameter, sunk into brown clay. The bridge’s approach embankments are composed of 75 percent chalk and 25 percent ash, with clay berms. Settlement of around 1.2m was anticipated as the underlying clay consolidated.
Kingsferry Bridge cost £1.2m to construct and was opened by the Duchess of Kent on 20th April 1960.
Before the new high-level road bridge opened, up to 30,000 vehicles a day crossed the lift bridge. Each time the bridge lifts for maritime traffic, which is busiest at high tide, it closes for 15-20 minutes.
Resident engineer: R. Hodges
Contractor: John Howard & Co Ltd
Steelwork: Dorman Long (Bridge & Engineering) Co Ltd
Machinery: Sir William Arrol & Co
Research: ECPK
"Design and Construction of the Kingsferry Lifting Bridge, Isle of Sheppey" by James Kenneth Anderson and Charles Dargie Brown, in ICE Proceedings, Vol.28, pp.449-470, August 1964
reference sources   CEH South

Kingsferry Vertical Lift Bridge