Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge


Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge is situated on the A56 between the village of Sutton Weaver and the town of Frodsham in Cheshire, UK. The present bridge was constructed in 1926 and is a vital transport link across the River Weaver connecting with Frodsham and Helsby. Without this bridge the journey from Sutton Weaver to Frodsham would become a 14 mile round trip (approx.).

The bridge was built by Joseph Parks, who had a factory in Northwich and another just along the Weston canal. The original had much more ornate gates, these obstructed the view of traffic at the road junction and were replaced, the originals are now on Acton bridge. Sutton Weaver dock was built to transship coal from railway wagons into boats

The first bridge was built in 1872 and consisted of two lattice ironwork longitudinal plate girders carrying a plank floor, connected by diaphragm plates and supported when swinging with tie rods which passed over inverted triangular frames'. The old bridge was 75' long x 14' wide and weighed 20 tons. It was manually operated by one man.

By 1923 the 1872 bridge could no longer cope with 'modern' traffic loads and the Navigation Trustees reached an agreement with Cheshire County Council to replace the bridge with a new structure built to Ministry of Transport standards. Cheshire County Council and the Ministry of Transport agreed to pay for work that was beyond the legal responsibilities of the Trustees.

The 'new' (present) bridge is 150' long by 44' wide giving a clear roadway of 26' 8" plus two footpaths of 5'. When open the bridge offers a clear span of 65' + 8' for the towpath. The swinging section and the pontoon that it sits on weigh 519 tons, including 420 tons of iron and steel. The pontoon makes up 33 tons of this and is 35' in diameter.

The pontoon is hollow and functions by displacing water equal to the volume of the air in the pontoon, thereby floating and reducing the vertical load on the central bearings. The floating pontoon turns with the bridge taking two thirds of its weight.

The bridge turns on 114 rollers on a 42' 6" diameter roller path, with each roller carrying between 1/5th and 3/5th of a ton.

The bridge was designed to take a maximum distributed load of 120 tons, with a single axle load of 15 tons.

The electric motors that turn the bridge produce 1-30bhp, and the motors that drive the wedges produce 2-10 bhp.

In the 1920's the bridge was swung on average 17 times per day.

When being swung road traffic was stopped by heavy iron gates hung on ball bearings and connected by underground gearing. These gates are still in situ but are not used. Road lighting on the bridge was electric but the red and green signal lamps were paraffin.

With acknowledgment to:

Acton Bridge

Acton Bridge

Original ornate gates from Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge are now used on Acton Bridge.

Acton Bridge

Acton Bridge