Bridging the Mersey - a pictorial history

Bridging the Mersey - a pictorial history

:   Dave Thompson
:   Cheshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2640-3
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Bridging the Mersey - a pictorial history'

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19 Construction work on the Widnes / Runcorn Transporter Bridge commeneed in December 1901 at a site upriver ofthe Railway Bridge. In this view, cast iron cylinders are seen being dug into the Mersey foreshore to support the tower foundations. Each 9-ft-diameter cylinder was bolted to the bare rock and filled with concrete.

20 The laying offoundations on the Runcorn side was more complicated, as the cylinders needed to be sunk in the Manchester Ship Canal. The engineers constructed timber-piled staging from the canal bank to the site for the foundations in the canal, where upon a tramway was laid with a 10-ton steam crane.

2 1 The sinking of the foundation cylinders in the ship canal proved to be one of the most difficult aspects of the bridge's construction. They were sunk into the canal bed with an air loek on top by means of compressed air caissons. Each was like a huge upturned funnel in which men worked under compressed air, excavating downwMdsthroughsand and gravel to the bedrock beneath.

22 The ISO-ft-high towers were built throughout 1903 by theArrol Bridge and Roof Company of Glasgow. The company was founded in 1882 and had a renowned reputation for bridge fabrications. They had also built the first large overhead gauntry at Harland & Wolfs shipyard in Belfast and the gigantic wheels at Earl's Court, Blackpool and Vienna. Arrol built bridges all over the world, but most famouslyon the Cape-toCairo Railway where it is said their bridges, if placed end to end, would extend to over two-and-a-half miles in length. The Arrol Bridge & Roof Company were paid f, 19 for every ton of steelwark they built into the transporters towers and used a 120-fthigh triangular framed

scaffold with aS-ton crane capable of lifting pieces to the highest parts of the towers, where men worked at a pace using pneumatic riveting machines.

23 Ornate copper-topped lanterns, finished with wooden panels and windows, were erected on the top of each tower. Fellowing the bridge's demolinon one of these lanterns is reputed to have been used as a sweet shop on the raad to Chester.

24 In this view the cables from the St. Helens Cable Company are seen to be arriving at the bridge construction site. The cables were unique and required 5,000 tests on their composition and the breaking laad of the wires bef are the engineers could be satisfied as to their suitability. Each cable comprised 2,413 wires and each wire was designed to withstand a laad of 90 tons per square inch.

25 The heavy chemicalladen atmosphere of Widnes was of particular worry to the engineers. The senior engineer, [ohn Webster, was so concerned about the acidity of the atmosphere that he had cables coated with a bitumen compound and wrapped with sailcloth also saturated in bitumen. He had determined the resistance of the bitumen to the poisonous atmosphere by having tested this and other substances on coated wrought-iron plates and for three months had them suspended 50ft above a Widnes chemical works.

26 In this view we see one of the huge saddles used for carrying the cables over the top of the towers. These were designed to allow for the varying expansion and contraction of the cables, brought about by the differing loads and temperatures experienced.

27 A rare view ofworkmen, employed in the construction of the bridge, together with their families during a trip to celebrate

the completion of the transporter bridge. This gathering in 1905 is believed to have been taken at Frodsham.

28 The new transporter bridge seen from Victoria Gardens, Widnes.

This viewpoint of the two Mersey crossings was described by the writer of

this postcard as 'the only decent place that I have seen around this peculiar town'. This attractive promenade area was developed in 1884 and after

the construction of the transporter it became a popular resting place with bridge passengers and local folk.

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