Bridges over the Manchester Ship Canal, Latchford, Warrington.
Well, ok – these bridges aren’t actually in Manchester but span the Ship Canal to the west in Warrington. They both tell the same story… neglect, age, deterioration. The impressive Latchford Viaduct weighed over 1,200 tonnes when it was opened in 1893 on the southerly railway line between Liverpool and Manchester passing through Warrington. It was closed in 1985 due to the prohibitive costs for repair. In actual fact, I suspect it failed its loading exam and required strengthening. On a railway line, you just can’t add weak bridge signs and 12.5t weight restrictions!! It has been closed ever since. There has been talk for a long time about it being opened for use as part of the Trans-Pennine Trail.
The second is officially called the Latchford High-level Bridge. Everyone knows it as the Cantilever Bridge and apparently weighs 783 tonnes. This is of a similar design (if not identical) to the Warburton Toll Bridge further east and has a similar problem – it is weak. I suspect it is still privately owned by the ship canal company and hence due to the adopted highway running over it, will be down to them to replace when it reaches the end of its life. That can’t be far off, the next restriction down from 3t is to close the bridge completely to motor traffic. In the next 10 years or so, the ship canal company is going to have to spend a huge amount of money replacing a lot of their bridges.