Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Manchester’s Golden Gate for more than 100 years

Local History

Manchester’s Golden Gate for more than 100 years

It may be a long way from San Francisco, but Trafford’s swing bridge has been Manchester’s golden gate for more than 100 years.

A masterpiece of Victorian engineering, the iron bridge on Trafford Road has linked Salford Docks at Ordsall and White City, Old Trafford, since the Manchester Ship Canal was officially opened in 1894.

Designed by John Butler and Company, the bridge is the widest and heaviest of the swing bridges on the canal. It weighs 1,800 tonnes.

Trafford Swing Bridge, with Horse and Cart (left) and Tram (right)
Trafford Swing Bridge, with Horse and Cart (left) and Tram (right) – Source: The Changing Face of Manchester, iNostalgia Publishing / MirrorPix

Back in the 1890s, the bridge provided passage for trams and horse-drawn carts carrying goods to waiting ships.

Soon the carts gave way to cars and now the bridge carries droves of Manchester United fans to Old Trafford to watch their footballing idols.

The bridge was permanently opened to vehicles in 1992 – so long gone are the days of infuriating hold-ups as ships were let through at rush hour!

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The bridge would swing open to allow ocean-going cargo ships to pass through on their way from Liverpool to the Manchester Docks and Pomona Docks.

There was no need for the bridge to open once the docks were closed, so it was fixed in place as part of the scheme to widen the road to a dual carriageway in 1998. Another bridge was built along its eastern side.

The hydraulic operating station was located next to the bridge on the north bank of the canal.

Trafford Road Swing Bridge
Trafford Road Swing Bridge – Source: The Changing Face of Manchester, iNostalgia Publishing / MirrorPix

Historians were up in arms when two large wicker baskets, which had been an eye-catching feature of the bridge, mysteriously went missing during restoration work.

The ‘lobster pots’ acted as traffic controls for the ships, indicating which vessel had right of way. They were also an effective early warning system, letting people know when the bridge was about to swing.

The mystery of the missing baskets was solved when the council admitted to removing them for safe-keeping. They were later returned.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Gleaming trams that used to cross the bridge have long since gone, but the next generation Metrolink station now stands proudly on the horizon just a stone’s throw away.

The volume of traffic across the bridge has increased hugely since our main image was taken. Trafford Road has been widened and the major junction with Chester Road improved.

The bridge now carries the busy A5063 Trafford Road linking the M602 and A56.

It was listed as a Grade II structure in July 1987.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

Former daily newspaper editor and group editorial director for leading national media brands, Malcolm is a regular contributor to the iNostalgia National History with a love for our national heritage.

Others Also Read

Clives Curiosities

On 17 November 1994, around 22 million people sat glued to their television sets as Noel Edmunds hosted the extravaganza heralding the first National...

Local History

The Ordnance Survey (OS) of Great Britain, renowned as the world’s oldest national mapping agency, has a storied history that spans over two centuries....

National History

In May 1982, a moment of profound historical and spiritual significance unfolded in Heaton Park, Manchester, as Pope John Paul II made an unprecedented...

Sporting History

In the realm of sports, British women have continually shattered barriers, broken records, and carved out a legacy of excellence. Today, as we bid...

Advertisement

Copyright © 2024 iNostalgia, now part of CK Digital Media Ltd, With Content Optimisation by SEO Andy.
Articles & pages on this website may contain affiliate links, including but not not limited to Amazon.
This means by purchasing via link to these sites you will pay no more, you may get a discount, and you will support out website. On certain purchases via these links we get a small commission.