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Barton Swing Aqueduct
Manchester Ship Canal, Barton, Manchester, UK
Barton Swing Aqueduct
associated engineer
Sir Edward Leader Williams
Cleveland Structural Engineering Ltd
William Henry Hunter
date  1893 - 1st January 1894
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Aqueduct  |  reference  SJ766976
ICE reference number  HEW 28
photo  PHEW
Williams was the engineer for the Manchester Ship Canal, which was completed in 1894 and runs from Merseyside to Salford in central Manchester. At Barton, just inside the M63, it intersects the River Irwell, which at this point is part of the Bridgewater Canal. The Barton Swing Aqueduct is the second aqueduct on the site. It carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal, using a swing mechanism.
The Bridgewater Canal, including the original fixed-span aqueduct over the River Irwell, was designed by James Brindley and completed in 1761. The old masonry aqueduct had three arches. Unfortunately, it represented an insuperable obstacle to the builders of the Manchester Ship Canal, which was following the line of the River Irwell and is designed to allow passage for large sea-going vessels. The old aqueduct was too low.
It was decided to replace the masonry aqueduct with a swing mechanism. The site chosen was alongside and just upstream of the old Barton Aqueduct, which was demolished on completion of the new.
Barton Swing Aqueduct consists of an iron trough supported on rivetted wrought iron cross-girders, which are supported in turn on steel N-type twin girders that run longitudinally. The centre point of the aqueduct is on an island in the Ship Canal. The mechansim swings about this point on 64 cast iron rollers. Before it moves, the ends of the trough are closed using gates with rubber wedge seals. The swinging structure weighs a total of 1,451 tonnes.
The island in the canal is 121.9m long and 9.1m wide. It also forms the foundation for the Barton Swing Bridge (road) just to the west. A four storey control tower sits between the two structures.
The aqueduct's swing section is 71.6m long and 7.3m wide. The trough is 5.5m wide and 2.1m deep. There is a powerful hydraulic ram at the centre pivot which can be raised to carry half the weight of the swing span.
The Manchester Ship Canal is now part of the Peel Ports Group.
Contractor: C.J. Wills
Ironwork: Andrew Handyside
Machinery: Armstrong Mitchell & Co
Research: PD
PHEW records, ICE
"A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Greater Manchester"
by Robina McNeil and Michael Nevell
Association for Industrial Archaeology, 2000
reference sources   CEH North

Barton Swing Aqueduct