TRANS­PORTER BRIDGES: A BRIEF HIS­TORY

Steam Railway (UK) - - Warrington Transporter Bridge -

The con­cept of trans­porter bridges - with pas­sen­gers and ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling on a plat­form sus­pended from a high-level span - dates from the late 19th cen­tury; the world’s first ex­am­ple was opened in 1893, in Bil­bao, Spain. Down-river from War­ring­ton, the road trans­porter bridge be­tween Widnes and Run­corn was opened in 1905 and sur­vived un­til 1961 when it was re­placed by a mod­ern sus­pen­sion bridge. To­day, traf­fic has grown so much that a sec­ond fixed bridge is un­der con­struc­tion. Others were built at New­port over the River Usk and at Mid­dles­brough, over the Tees, which has fea­tured fre­quently in TV dra­mas, but the one at War­ring­ton is be­lieved to be the only one that car­ried rail­way rolling stock. Like the Widnes-Run­corn one, the orig­i­nal War­ring­ton trans­porter bridge also opened in 1905. It was built to carry light goods and pas­sen­gers to the ce­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing works on the site and also car­ried a pipe­line for car­bon­ate sludge. It sur­vived un­til the 1960s. When the cur­rent bridge opened ten years later, slightly to the south, it meant that three of the world’s hand­ful of trans­porter bridges were on the River Mersey, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in Tow­path Talk magazine by canals writer Harry Arnold. In later rail-op­er­ated years, wag­ons were hauled around the site by a Fowler 0-4-0 diesel shunter, Per­sil, named af­ter Cros­field’s best-known prod­uct and now pre­served at the Rib­ble Steam Rail­way.

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