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Warrington Transporter Bridge (Crosfield's Bridge No.1), site of
River Mersey, Warrington, Cheshire, UK
Warrington Transporter Bridge (Crosfield's Bridge No.1), site of
associated engineer
James Newall
date  circa 1905
UK era  Modern  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SJ597879
photo  courtesy Graces Guide www.gracesguide.co.uk
One of five transporter bridges constructed in Britain. Now demolished, it was one of two built by the Crosfield organisation for the transportation of chemicals and goods across a loop of the River Mersey at Bank Quay, Warrington.
Warrington’s transporter bridges were constructed on private land. In 1814, Joseph Crosfield (1792-1844) built his soap works along the banks of the Mersey. The river is still tidal here, meandering past the south of the city and surrounding Crosfield’s south bank works on three sides.
It was vital to provide sufficient headway for shipping, including for the works' own steamer ships. The Mersey Conservancy stipulated an under-bridge clearance of 22.9m, so Crosfield’s engineer James Newall advised building a transporter bridge for freight. The company operated a ferry at Bank Quay for employee use.
At the time, two other transporter bridges were under construction in Britain — the Runcorn-Widness (built 1901-5, demolished 1960s) and Newport (1902-6) bridges. An earlier type of transporter was the aerial cableway. One such suspension structure near Brighton in Sussex (completed 1894, closed about 1909) took people 198.1m across the Devil’s Dyke gorge.
The original transporter bridge at Warrington was a suspension structure, completed about 1905. It conveyed raw materials and manufactured goods over the river to different parts of the factory. Apparently, it also carried a pipeline and serviced a cement-making plant.
Costing about £4,000, the bridge was designed to transport a 2.54 tonne load across a 76.2m span at 9.65kph (6mph) on a travelling car. Owing to the congested site, its south tower was founded on deep piles in the river bank while the north tower was constructed on top of a flat-roofed warehouse.
The tapering square towers were of latticed steelwork. Piling for the south tower was in pitch pine with wrought iron ties, and included sheet piles of 152mm x 356mm section with 305mm square king and anchor piles.
The car hung from a runway between the towers, stiffened longitudinally by a pair of open lattice girders. Unlike some other transporter bridges, the girders were without hinges at midspan. To mitigate wind forces, latticed ‘wings’ were built on either side of the towers at runway level, perpendicular to the direction of travel.
A pair of suspension cables fixed to the tower caps carried the runway, hung from 32mm diameter vertical hanger rods of mild steel at 3m intervals. Straight inclined backstays from the tower caps, and lighter guys from the caps and wings, were anchored in large underground mass concrete blocks.
The cables, and presumably the backstays, were "of best selected plough steel", 178mm in circumference and 57mm in diameter. They consisted of seven strands, each containing 37 wires, or 259 wires in total. All the steelwork was coated in lead paint.
The bridge was evidently useful, because 10 years later, Crosfield’s constructed a second transporter bridge (1914-5) over the river about 400m upstream (south east). The first bridge was demolished sometime after October 1962 (exact date unknown). The second one still stands but is disused and in disrepair.
Five transporter bridges were built in England. Other than Warrington, two others survive — at Newport and at Middlesbrough (constructed 1909-11) - 17th October 1911). There are nine known transporter bridges remaining in the world.
Supervising engineer: James Newall
Contractor: Thomas Piggott, Birmingham
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Flying Bridges. A Short History of Transporter Bridges", eBook by Cyril J. Wood, Diarama Multi-Media, available at www.canalscape.net
"A new transporter bridge at Warrington", The Engineer, 27th March 1908 & 3rd April 1908
"Cableway for passenger traffic at Brighton, England”, Engineering News, Vol.33, No.5, pp.67-68, 1895
http://unilever-archives.com
www.gracesguide.co.uk
www.towpathtalk.co.uk
www.warringtontransporterbridge.co.uk
Location

Warrington Transporter Bridge (Crosfield's Bridge No.1), site of