Swing bridge 47, Broadhurst's, Gaw End
47 is the very last example of a Macclesfield Canal swivel bridge,
more normally known today as a swing bridge. There were once about
a dozen of these along the canal. They were the cheap version of
an accommodation bridge, probably built where frequency of crossings
would be relatively low.
The picture was taken on 20th October 1998 minutes after the bridge had been re-installed following complete re-building (see story below).
Most swivel bridges were removed many years ago as a result of disuse and dereliction. In the case of Hagg Farm bridge, number 16, subsidence also played a part. In fact this bridge still had its frame intact on its mounting as recently as the late 1970's, but the canal water flowed into the turntable well.
Bridge 47 was in a derelict state by the end of the 1980's and because it was the last remaining the Macclesfield Canal Society decided that it should be restored. Many of the timbers were replaced including all of the decking. The main beams had a number of areas of rot removed and new timber fitted into them. The metal work was refurbished.
A public footpath traverses this bridge. There is a very close diversion
that uses bridge 46, and the fact that bridge 47 has been out of
use for very many years (decades?) has not been a particular inconvenience.
However, it was the policy of Cheshire County Council that all footpaths
and public rights of way should be accessible to the public and action
was taken to require BW to rebalance the bridge and bring it back
bridge was removed to Northwich in June 1998 to have the turntable
runners re-furbished. However, the workshop inspection identified
a situation worse than expected. As a result all the deck timbers
were replaced. In fact the only surviving timbers are the hand railings.
We are indebted to John Powell who
has found in an archive William Crosley's* two signed colour wash
drawings of the standard swivel bridge. John says "The drawings
are very detailed and show the King Post to be of cast iron with
a cast iron wheel set into a fork at the top of the post. The tie
rods are attached to a short piece of chain which passes over the
drawings clearly indicate the bridge handrailings to be cast iron
posts and [wrought iron] rails of a similar size to the Ramsdell
The present timber railings are therefore the product
of a more recent repair and not original.
The metal sub-frame was refurbished and the whole reassembled in
the workshop. The bridge was re-instated on 20th October 1998 and
was completed for use by its official opening on 14th December
1998 by the local MP, Sir Nicholas Winterton.
The picture shows the rebuilt bridge being relocated on its pintle on 20th October 1998.
* William Crosley seems to have been in doubt about the spelling
of his own name! We have seen examples of his signature with both
one and two esses. In these pages we try to use a single ess.
Powell, archive research. John is a retired BW Engineer