Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our dramatic main image this week shows houses in Runcorn dwarfed by the new bridge being built over the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. The date is March 19th 1960.

Cranes appear precariously perched at each end of the looming structure as the bridge to Widnes slowly takes shape. It was opened in July 1961.

Built at a cost of £2.4 million, the bridge’s main arch is 361 yards long. At the time of construction, it had the world’s third longest steel arch span.

For a few weeks, the bridge boasted the longest vehicular span in the country until it was overtaken by the opening of the Tamar Bridge.

Houses in Runcorn are dwarfed by the new Runcorn-Widnes bridge, which is under construction. 19th March 1960.
Manchester Ship Canal and Silver Jubilee Bridge, also known as the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge, in Runcorn. Tuesday 4th April 2017.
More than 720,000 rivets, 7,500 tons of concrete and 5,900 tons of steel were used in the Runcorn bridge’s construction. It has an 80ft clearance over the ship canal.

The new bridge had a massive impact on Runcorn, boosting the development of the new town in the 1960s and 1970s. Trade at the Port of Runcorn increased six-fold.

Widening took place from 1975 when a fourth lane was added by incorporating the footpaths. A new cantilevered footway was built on the east side of the bridge.

As the widening work was completed in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the bridge was renamed the Silver Jubilee Bridge. It has been illuminated by floodlights at night since 1994.

*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777.