Heritage Locations

Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge

The longest single-span road¬traffic bridge in Britain.


Period of construction:
1900 - 1949

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:


Mersey Road, Widness, Cheshire WA8 0DG


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

There are two working transporter bridges in Britain, while world wide there are seven that have survived out of fifteen originally built. The Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge crossed the river Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal linking Runcorn and Widnes.

Completed in 1905, it was Britain's first transporter bridge and the largest of its type ever built in the world. In operational use until 1961 when it was replaced by a traditional through arch bridge (the Silver Jubilee Bridge) and was then demolished. It linked the A 568 road on the Lancashire side with the A 533 on the Cheshire side.

The bridge was erected for the Widnes and Runcorn Bridge Company by the Arrol Bridge and Roof Company, of Glasgow, from the designs of J. J. Webster and J. T. Wood. It was completed in 1905, at a cost of £130,000 and went into service the same year. By 1911, the operating economics were so poor that it was sold to Widnes Corporation. Extensive alterations were made, mainly to the method of propulsion, and services were resumed under the ownership of the local authority in 1913.

In order to provide power for motors on the trolley a power house was built within the tower on the Widnes side. Approach roads of 98 m (320 ft) on the Widnes side and 143 m (470 ft) on the Runcorn side were built.The transporter is built on the suspension principle and is a steel structure with masonry anchorages and approaches. The towers are 58 m (190 ft) high and the span across the Mersey and the Canal is 305 m (1,000 ft), although the strengthening girder is 351 m (1,150 ft) long. The transporter car is a platform 17 m (55 ft) long and 7 m (24 ft) wide, and clears high¬water by 3.7 m (12 ft).

The delay to passengers because of the wait for the next crossing was considered a minor detail fifty years ago but today, transporter bridges are obsolescent because of increased traffic volumes. Twenty-eight men were employed on the bridge, which was operated by an electrically¬driven winch system and certified to carry a maximum load of 20 tonnes.  


Halton Borough Council The Bridging of Runcorn Gap, 1978

Halton Borough Council - Listed Buildings

Starkey, H. F. Old Runcorn, Halton Borough Council, 1990

Thompson, Dave Bridging the Mersey: A Pictorial History, European Library, Zaltbommel, 2000

Thompson, Dave Bridging the Years: The Story of Runcorn-Widnes Transporter Bridge, Dave Thompson, 2000

Opening Times:
Unrestricted access to replacement Silver Jubilee Bridge.

How To Find:
By road: On A533 Queensway

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