Salford and Manchester

Up and down the country, waterfront areas (whether river- or canal-side, old docks, or in coastal locations) have been the subject of intensive redevelopment in recent years. This redevelopment has created opportunities for much striking new design, and as water is an integral part of such settings, footbridges often feature on these sites. No waterside redevelopment is more comprehensive and impressive than the old Salford docks at the inland end of the Manchester Ship Canal. 

The principal footbridge in the area is the Lowry Footbridge, otherwise known as the Millennium Lifting Footbridge, over the Manchester Ship Canal itself, which links the two principal public buildings on the site - the Lowry and the Imperial War Museum North. The contract for the design of the bridge was won by W Middleton of the Salford engineering firm Parkmans with Spanish architect Casado following an international competition. The main engineering contractors were Christiani and Neilsen. The bridge was completed in the year 2000, so although not funded by the Millennium Commission may yet be thought off as a truly  Millennium Bridge. The bridge is of lifting design to enable ships to pass underneath.

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A smaller footbridge, of recent but unknown date, is that crossing the southern end of Mariner's Canal which links the Erie Basin and Ontario Basin. It appears that the name "Mariner" commemorates not local seafaring tradition, but local boy Rifleman William Mariner of the King's Royal Rifles who was awarded the VC for action in France in 1915. (The fact that he was a convict who had served terms of imprisonment both for burglary and for military offences tends to get overlooked!).

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A third notable bridge is the Detroit Bridge which separates the Huron and Erie Basin. Originally a railway swing bridge which spanned the Manchester Ship Canal to the west of the Trafford Road swing bridge, it was moved to its present location in the 1988, adjoining the extraordinary NV buildings (residential blocks of flats).

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MediaCityUK is major recent development in Salford that provides a new home for the  BBC and ITV broadcasting organisations. It includes general office, retail and leisure space, a hotel, residential apartments, and a new Metrolink stop that links to the city centre.

The Media City Footbridge is a swing-mechanism footbridge over the Manchester Ship Canal near MediaCityUK. It is an asymmetric cable-stayed swing bridge, designed by Gifford (now part of the Ramboll Group) and Wilkinson Eyre. The bridge links MediaCityUK with Trafford Wharf. It weighs 450 tonnes, and has two spans of 65 and 18 metres, the latter towards the Trafford (southern) bank. The deck of the bridge is an orthotropic steel box.  Unusually, the bridge is supported not by a single mast, but by eight tapered steel fanned masts, 31 metres high, resting on a common base towards the southern end. The bridge swings through 71 degrees to give a 48-metre  navigation channel. The swing mechanism is built on a reinforced concrete caisson foundation towards the Trafford side of the water of 13 metres diameter.  The bridge was built by Balfour Beatty, with the steel fabrication by Rowecord Engineering of Newport, South Wales and opened in 2011.

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Merchant's Bridge is strictly speaking in Castlefield in the City of Manchester and crosses the Bridgewater Canal at the point where it runs into the Rochdale Canal. It is named after the Merchant's Warehouse on the far side of the Canal. Built in 1996 by Whitby Bird and Partners. The 3m wide deck is 40m long and is hung by 13 hangers from an inclined arche, somewhat similar to the York Millennium Bridge. The deck is actually wider in the middle than at the ends because it was expected that pedestrians would want to stop in the middle to enjoy the view. The bridge won a number of awards including: the Civic Trust Award 1998, Design Council Millennium Product 1998 and the British Construction Industry Award 1996 highly commended. It is made of white painted steel.

Immediately to the north of the bridge and on the north side of the Canal are three closely parallel railway viaducts which span the entrance to Giant's Basin - the nearer brick-built one carrying National Rail was built in 1849. Immediately beyond is the Cornbrook Viaduct of 1877, a red brick and wrought iron truss girder high-level bridge now used by the Metrolink. Furthest away is the Great Northern viaduct of 1894, another high-level bridge of  tubular steel construction, now disused.

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