27 August 2019
Merseyside Bridges: 13. Bradley Swing Bridge
I crossed this bridge en route to its much bigger and better known neighbour, the Sankey Viaduct. It is a rod-stayed pedestrian bridge spanning the Sankey Canal, and although there may have been several bridges like this in the canal's heyday, I believe this is the only one of this type that is left.
The Canal dates all the way back to 1757, but Historic England suggest that the Grade II Listed bridge dates from around 1857. The Listing states that the turning gear and pivot remain in place, although clearly the bridge is no longer operational, and the canal reaches a dead-end a short distance to the north of here.
If the 1857 date is correct, it must be one of the oldest surviving stayed bridges in England (there are certainly older examples in Scotland). It's not clear how much of the bridge is original - Historic England date the parapets to the 20th century, and there are turnbuckles in the main rods which are clearly an alteration.
The bridge is currently painted black and white but was previously painted green, as can be seen in photos at the Towpath Talk website, and on Wikimedia Commons, so the repainting is fairly recent.
The bridge's most unusual feature is the way in which the main span stays split into two. The stays are flattened locally to allow a pin to pass through. Combined with the bending of the rod over the narrow width of the cast iron posts, this is not an arrangement which could carry substantial loads, it would too easily be prone to fracture.
At deck level, there is a short linking piece connecting the main stay to the floor beams, which don't look original to me.