Campaign to restore historic swing bridge in Greater Manchester

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Barton swing bridge was built during the construction of Manchester Ship Canal and opened to traffic on 1 January, 1894.

Public pressure is mounting for the historic Barton Swing Bridge which links Trafford to the Eccles area of Salford to be restored.

A petition lodged several years ago on the Change.org website has now reached more than 9,000 signatures.  The Grade II listed bridge is owned by Peel Ports and the petition claims it is being ‘left to rot away’.

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Posted by Phil Franks, it calls for it to be restored ‘before it is too late’. “It is now in severe need of re-painting and rot treatment, as it is literally crumbling away,” he writes.

His campaign is being supported by Barton and Winton councillor John Mullen, who lives a stone’s throw from the bridge.  “I support the petition in trying to save an important heritage asset,” he said. “I’ve reached out to Phil Franks, but he has never responded to me.”

Coun Mullen said that Peel and Salford city council officers were in ‘back and forth’ dialogue about the bridge. “It’s a piece of history and there’s even more history behind it,” he said. “It’s well known to be the first swinging bridge of its kind. It’s an amazing piece of Victorian engineering and it’s just rusting away.”

However, he said there were fears that any renovation project could result in the bridge being closed to traffic for up to nine months, creating chaos for people travelling across Manchester Ship Canal. “That would be a major problem for local commuters,” he said. “But a solution needs to be found.”

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Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Salford city council said: “We do appreciate and understand the feelings of local people on this issue. Barton Swing Bridge is owned and maintained by Peel Ports (Manchester Ship Canal Company). Officers from Salford city council are in early discussions with Peel Ports about their maintenance and repair of the bridge but no decisions have been made at this stage.”

The swing bridge was built during the construction of Manchester Ship Canal and opened to traffic on 1 January, 1894. By the 1930s, the bridge had become a significant bottleneck for workers in Trafford Park who commuted over the bridge on foot or bicycle, particularly during peak hours.

Barton swing bridge in Greater Manchester Credit: MEN/ Andy LambertBarton swing bridge in Greater Manchester Credit: MEN/ Andy Lambert
Barton swing bridge in Greater Manchester Credit: MEN/ Andy Lambert | Manchester Evening News

It also became an important route for goods vehicles heading to Trafford Park across Lancashire and for parishioners in Eccles travelling to Mass at All Saints Church on the canal’s south side.

By the 1950s the bridge had become part of the outer ring road, forming part of the route from Stretford to Bolton, avoiding both Manchester and Salford.

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A spokesperson from Peel Ports said: “As a key commuter bridge in the area, connecting Trafford Park and Salford, ensuring the continued efficiency and functionality of Barton Road Swing Bridge remains our top priority. At present, the bridge remains fully operational and safe for all users.”

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