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 main image this week shows the opening of the new Coffee House bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Bootle in December 1937.

Dignitaries are crossing the single-span structure after the opening ceremony by Alderman S. Mahon. The bunting hanging from the lamp-posts provides a stark contrast with the builders’ debris out of sight on the right of the image.

Coffee House bridge carries the A5057 Merton Road across the Liverpool to Wigan element of the canal which runs from Stanley Dock Cut Junction to the south and Lathom Junction 22 miles north east.

The 127-mile Leeds and Liverpool Canal crosses the Pennines from Leeds city centre all the way to Canning Dock in Liverpool. There are 91 locks on the main canal.

The first sod of the canal was dug at Halsall on November 5th 1770 and the first section was opened from Bingley to Skipton in 1773. The Liverpool to Newburgh section was completed by 1774.

Coffee House bridge, Liverpool - Then Coffee House bridge, Liverpool - Now

Various interruptions meant the canal took 50 years to complete, by which time the trans-Pennine Rochdale Canal and Huddersfield Narrow Canal were already opened.

Even so, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal became an important artery for transporting limestone and coal to the port of Liverpool. It delivered more than a million tons of coal a year to Merseyside in the 1860s.

A new £20 million link, opened in March 2009, connected the canal to Liverpool’s South Docks via Stanley Dock.

*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.