Historic canal bridge put back on the rails

An unusual canal footbridge built out of 100 year old railway tracks across the Trent and Mersey Canal is being given a new lease of life.

Bully’s Bridge, also known as Potlocks Bridge, at Willington was built in the late 19th Century, at a time when the canal was owned by the North Staffordshire Railway. Bullhead rails would have been a cheap, readily available material and were used to form a support for the timber bridge deck and guard rails to prevent people falling off.

Bullys Bridge

The bridge would have connected the town of Findern with a now filled-in transhipment wharf built to enable the transfer of goods from rail to canal and vice versa. Today the canal towpath is a popular walking route, and the bridge is used frequently by the residents of nearby Mercia Marina.

During the works the whole bridge has been covered in polythene so that the old paint can be blasted off and a new coat applied safely without polluting the water. The engineers have also been improving the structure of the bridge, installing new bracing and fitting a new timber deck and steps. The project is being carried out by the Trust’s main contractor Kier.  During the works a temporary crossing has been installed maintaining access over the canal.

Tim Brownrigg, project manager for the Canal & River Trust said; “This bridge has got a really fascinating history and helps to tell a wider story about what the area would have looked like over a century ago. The construction is really interesting and shows the resourcefulness of those working on the canal at that time. Today the bridge forms part of a really popular walking route so it’s important that we carry out these works, making the bridge look smarter and more welcoming for all the people that use it every day and preserving a fascinating part of the area’s history.”

Robert Neff, general manager at Mercia Marina, said: “It’s wonderful to have such interesting history right on our doorstep. The bridge and its unusual structure is always a real talking point among our moorers and other visitors, and it of course provides an essential crossing point. We are therefore extremely grateful to the Canal & River Trust for taking on this significant renovation work.”

Thanks to CRT for this report and images.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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