Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the Widnes transporter bridge

We mentioned the transporter bridge at Marseille destroyed during WW2 in an earlier post; this is a painting by Manchester artist Steven Scholes of the world's largest such bridge, set in 1908. The Runcorn-Widnes Transporter Bridge was also Britain's first such bridge, completed in 1905, which crossed the river Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal linking the towns of Runcorn and Widnes. It continued in use until 1961 when it was replaced by a through arch bridge, now known as the Silver Jubilee Bridge; the transporter bridge was then demolished.

The two towers were 180 feet (55 metres) high and the distance between them, spanned by a truss, was 1,000 feet (300 metres). The weight of the cables suspending the girder was 250 tons. The underside of the girder was 82 feet (25 metres) above the high water level. The transporter car was 55 feet (17 metres) in length and 24 feet 6 inches (7.5 metres) in width and was designed to carry 4 two-horse farm wagons and 300 passengers. A shelter was provided for the passengers. The bottom of the car was 12 feet (3.7 metres) above high water level and it cleared the ship canal wall by 4.5 feet (1.4 metres). It was suspended from a moving trolley 77 feet (23 metres) in length. In reasonable weather and load conditions the journey took 2½ minutes. The driver was sited in a cabin on top of the car from which he had an uninterrupted view in all directions. In order to provide power for motors on the trolley, a power house was built within the tower on the Widnes side. Approach roads of 320 feet (98 metres) on the Widnes side and 470 feet (140 metres) on the Runcorn side were built.

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