Following on from our recent article about Salt Workers Stout, this blog also provides the history behind another of our Brew2bottle beer kits, Swing Bridge Bitter, which also derives its name from the heritage of Mid-Cheshire.
The River Weaver was canalised in the 18th Century, linking Northwich and Winsford with the sea in order to improve the transport of salt. Prior to that, salt was moved by road to the nearest navigable part of the river in Frodsham. To begin with, sailing flats were used to move the salt, although they weren't sailed when on the river, but hauled by men on the banks. After a towpath was constructed, horses replaced the men. Once steam barges came into use, more headroom was needed beneath the road bridges, so these were replaced by bridges which swung to one side to allow the boats to pass.
Northwich boasts not only the first electrically powered swing bridge in Great Britain, but also the second. Hayhurst Bridge and Town Bridge (pictured), are both built over the River Weaver on floating pontoons to counteract mine subsidence. Designed in 1898 by Colonel John Saner, the Hayhurst Bridge was named after the France-Hayhurst family of Bostock Hall and was treated to a £4.1m refurbishment in 2002, reopening on 3 November 2004 – exactly 106 years to the day of its first opening. A little further down the river, near the Bullring, Town Bridge was constructed in 1899 again by Colonel John Saner, who was also responsible for the radical redesign of Anderton Boat Lift in 1908.
The three other swing bridges in the area are at Acton Bridge, Winnington and Sutton Weaver. The Sutton Weaver swing bridge, constructed in 1926, carries an estimated 90,000 vehicles per day and is currently undergoing a £4.5m upgrade.
So raise a glass of Brew2bottle Swing Bridge Bitter to Colnel John Saner and the bridges of Northwich.