Friday, 22 June 2012

THE TURNOVER BRIDGE

Salt Town Productions
by Dave Roberts


I suppose if you're not familiar with this local landmark, you might think that the 'turnover bridge' is some kind of mechanical structure, like a swing bridge or a transporter bridge, designed to move traffic or canal boats from one place to another in a Victorian Engineering Marvel sort of way.
But no, the 'turnover' bridge' gets its name very simply from the fact that the road from Middlewich to Sandbach switches from the right hand side of the Trent & Mersey  Canal to the left at this point.
It's real, official, name is 'Tetton Bridge' and it lies in the middle of what was once an industrialised area.
From the 1770s until the 1960s it was just another of those 'hump-backed' canal bridges seen all over the area (although, being on a main road, it didn't have much of a 'hump'), until it was replaced by a more modern structure during a road improvement scheme.
Or was it?
Certainly it looks like a modern structure, particularly from the 'Middlewich' end. In fact, when you stand underneath it and look towards Middlewich, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Town Bridge:
Looking at  the 'Sandbach' side of the bridge , however, it's plain that part of the structure, at least, has its origins in a traditional canal bridge:

This side of Tetton Bridge has the gracefully curved arch seen on many bridges in the area, albeit clad in ugly concrete. In front of the arch is one of the brine pipelines which criss-cross the area like a spider's web.
So is Tetton Bridge ancient or modern?
There's a clue in this notice, to be found on the 'Middlewich' side:

The 'sudden change in bridge profile' is a reference to the point where the new part of the bridge meets the old:
..and the sweeping arch of the old bridge is very evident. Also evident on the left is  damage to the brickwork where something has dealt the old bridge a severe blow.

So the 'turnover bridge' is actually an interesting amalgam of old and new.
The old bridge was never actually demolished, merely cocooned by the new bridge and hidden away from all except canal users.
From the road above, there is no hint of the interesting bodge-up which lies beneath:

Notice the sign on the right pointing the way down Tetton Lane to Warmingham where the brine for making Middlewich salt comes from.
Beyond the hedge in the background lies the site of Murgatroyd's Chemical Works (most recently operated by Brenntag, who  still have a presence at the Middlewich end of the site, including a Combined Heat and Power Station).
The area will change out of all recognition one glorious day when the Middlewich by-pass is completed and joins the Sandbach road at a point somewhere near the top of this photograph.

All the photographs in this entry, by the way, were taken on Wednesday 20th June 2012, one of the few warm and sunny days in  the wettest June in a hundred years.

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Paul Greenwood Fascinating entry, Dave. I've been going back and to over that bridge most days for the last thirty-four years, and never knew its secrets.

Geraldine Williams I can remember the old Turnover Bridge, but wonder what happened to the Middlewich-Sandbach traffic during the modifications? Must have been jolly if it was all diverted through Warmingham!

Dave Roberts I was wondering that, too, Geraldine. Possibly they  built the new part of  the bridge and diverted traffic over it while they were constructing the new roadway over the top of the old bridge?

Does anyone remember? -Ed








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