Merchant’s Bridge – Manchester, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 28.486 W 002° 15.392
30U E 549344 N 5925343
Quick Description: This award winning inclined arch footbridge was installed in the Castlefield area of Manchester in 1995 as part of a regeneration project.
Location: North West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 3/4/2013 12:04:18 PM
Waymark Code: WMGGM7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
During the regeneration of the Castlefield basin, a modern footbridge was built from Slate Wharf to Catalan Square across the Bridgewater Canal.

The 85 tonne bridge has a curved design and uses a counterbalanced inclined arch with 13 hangers supporting a 3m wide deck. The bridge has gentle ramps leading to the 40 metre span over the canal giving the bridge a total length of 67 metres.

The Central Manchester Development Corporation sponsored the bridge and set up a design competition that stipulated the bridge should have a striking structure which would offer the best of 20th century design and engineering while complementing the seven established bridges at the site which cover 200 years of history. The winning design by structural engineers Whitby and Bird was inspired by designs of Santiago Calatrava a famous Spanish architect. The architect was RHWL Partnership, the main contractor was The Angle Ring Co Limited and the Steelwork Contractor was Watson Steel Limited.

Attached to the brick support on Slate Wharf is a plaque for a 1995 special award from the Institute of Structural Engineers.

Although originally an industrial site, it now has housing, pubs and restaurants on the site and is a popular tourist attraction. It is also used by leisure canal boaters and the bridge had to be high enough to allow the canal boats to pass underneath.

Some of the existing bridges mentioned in the design brief are Victorian railway viaducts and the end of this arch bridge in Catalan Square is close to them giving an interesting contrast of old and new designs. This bridge lover and designer’s blog has further technical information about this and other bridges.

The Castlefield area of the City of Manchester.
This area is so named because of the remains of a Roman fort in the area.

Manchester was one of the world’s first industrial cities and indeed claims to have started the industrial revolution with the building of the Bridgewater Canal. This canal was the first canal in Britain that did not make use of any existing waterways. It was built by the Duke of Bridgewater to connect his coal mines at Worsley with Manchester and terminated at Castlefield near to the River Medlock. The canal boats were able to carry around ten times more coal than was previously possible by cart. In fact, the canal was so effective that the price of coal in Manchester fell by over half within a year of its opening. This meant that the use of steam power in factories became economically viable.

The Bridgewater canal reached Manchester in 1761 at the Castlefield Basin. It was later extended to provide a link to Liverpool on the west coast. Many factories were built around Castlefield and so the canal started to carry many other goods as well as coal.

In 1799 The Rochdale Canal was joined onto the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield and connected Manchester to Rochdale. By 1804 the Rochdale Canal was extended to Sowerby Bridge and became the first canal that crossed the Pennine Hills. From Sowerby Bridge it was possible to reach Hull on the East coast by use of a number of other linked canals and rivers.

The next stage of Manchester’s development was the arrival of railways in 1830 and there are four separate railway viaducts that cross the Bridgewater Canal and wharves in Castlefield.

During the 20th Century canals and railways declined in use and Castlefiled became largely derelict. However in 1982 the area became the first Urban Heritage Park and large parts of the area have now been restored. There are now apartments, pubs and restaurants in the area. Various modern bridges have been erected to connect parts of the site and it is now a popular and interesting area to visit and explore.

See this Wikipedia page for a fuller description of Castlefield.
Length of bridge: 67 metres

What type of traffic does this bridge support?: pedestrians

What kind of gap does this bridge cross?:
The Bridgewater Canal

Date constructed: 1/1/1995

Is the bridge still in service for its original purpose?: Yes

Name of road or trail the bridge services: Unnamed path.

Castlefield Basin in Manchester connecting Catalan Square with Slate Wharf

Height of bridge: Not listed

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