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The Warrington Transporter Bridge has been out of use since 1964 and is deteriorating quite quickly even though it is listed Grade II* and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was opened across the tidal River Mersey in 1916, at a cost of £34,000, to conect parts of the Joseph Crosfield and Son Ltd soap and chemical works. Initially it carried railway trucks up to 18 tons in weight but was converted for road vehicles in 1940 and upgraded to 30 ton weight limit in 1953. The double steel cantilevers on each tower support a central 200ft span of riveted mild steel plates and angles. The overall length of the structure is 339ft and it provides 76ft clearance at high water. It was designed by William Henry Hunter, and built by contractor Sir William Arrol. It is now owned by Warrington Borough Council, which may not augur too well for its future. 

Readers Write

Hello Friends,
I was a bridge driver in 1969 to 1972, and it was part of my job, while employed at Crosfields as a shunter/driver, that when I was on the 2pm to 10pm shift, to traipse all the way over to the cheshire side of the works, and get the 'ignition key' from the weighbridge office there to unlock the drivers cab, and the gate to the staircase, 123 steps to the winding house, and make my way up those steps, and into the winding house to wash the brake drum with petrol, and then to oil all the wheels on the carriage, whilst hanging like 'spiderman' from the superstructure, and use an oil-can with a press button on it to aim oil at the wheel centres.
On windy days the blasts of wind would rip throgh all the superstructure and whistle up my trouser legs, and this was no place for a person afraid of heights to be, even in the best of weather, but that wind was a bit disconcerting, so I had to have my wits about me, this oiling job had to be done, and done properly. My mate at the time was a Mr Ted Flaherty, and it really did take two of us to complete the job. It was himself that taught me to drive the bridge, and it was simple enough to learn, the most important part of the movement being, to be sure there was no 'shipping' (barges) on the river at the time of movement, and the point of braking, so we didn't crash into the abutments on our approach to the point of docking the bridge so any damage would occur to the bridge, and its load,.
What did we take across the river? this was usually Arthur Hayes or another of Crosfields Tractor drivers with whatever had to go to the cheshire side of the works in a trailer, and wait for the tractor to return to the Lancashire side, the days work for the Transporter Bridge was done, all we had to do then was to lock it all up and bring the keys back to John in the weighbridge, it was better to lock it all up, We didn't want it to be Stolen from us,
One more point, we had to carry the oil for the wheels, up the stairs, in a 5 gallon oil drum, heavy stuff oil doing it that way, or hoist it up using a long rope over the safety rails at the top, in the wind, that oil drum could get a fair arc on it when it was swinging, but we always got the oil to the wheels. and the petrol to the brake drums, the drums were washed in the petrol and polished too with industrial waste, this had to be done so the brake strap around the brake drum would slow the bridge down enough to safely dock it, all intricate stuff, but we never had a 'crash' either with river traffic or the bridge abutments, we even had a method to dock the bridge in strong cross-winds, and this was not in any operators manual, but the dodge always worked,
I am pleased to say so did the brakes!! a bit like a handbrake turn in a car really, and it was an aquired skill so to speak, I Loved that old bridge, and still visit it, on my own when I go to see the animals at the RSPCA, and sit in my car and stare at it for a few minutes, fascinating.
If anyone would like to E.Mail me, for comments or responses to questions they may have, E.Mail me via the web site address below.
Thankyou for taking the time to read this, it was a pleasure to write it, and a greater pleasure to drive that beautiful bridge.
Mr Tony Mcfarlane

Readers Photos

Taken and submitted 24.10.04

We were unable to get closer the AA street atlas shows the road passing the bridge from the side of the RSPCA buildings but this is the railway lines to the bridge not a road.

We will try to obtain permission to take photos from inside the works boundary soon.

These two were taken from the Cats Protection League car park

This one from alongside the RSPCA                                    Taken from The Eastford road entrance
The rail line is behind the fence on the left

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