Historic canal footbridge in Middlewich now restored

The Grade II Listed Big Lock Footbridge in Middlewich, Cheshire, is once again welcoming pedestrians across the Trent & Mersey Canal following our completed restoration works.

Cllr Mike Hunter & Tania Snelgrove at Middlewich Big Lock footbridge opening Cllr Mike Hunter & Tania Snelgrove at the Middlewich Big Lock footbridge opening

A round of applause from delighted onlookers cheered on our engineers as they craned the Big Lock Footbridge back into position over the Trent & Mersey Canal, after a year-long restoration of the heritage landmark costing £330,000.

The original footbridge, supported by 1891 bullhead railway rails, had to be closed ahead of repairs just under two years ago, with a temporary pedestrian crossing installed alongside it. Last June, we created a special cradle to lift the old bridge safely onto a low loader and transport it to a specialist firm for grit blasting, followed by a sensitive and detailed restoration of the elegant Victorian structure.

Combining old with new

Tania Snelgrove, our project manager, said: “It was fantastic to see so many local residents out to watch the nail-biting moment when we craned the newly-restored bridge back into position. It was a real boost to the hardworking team to receive a spontaneous round of applause!

“The old bridge was badly corroded, and our engineers rose to the challenge of providing a sympathetic restoration which could carry modern loadings. The original steel structure has largely been retained so the weathering is clearly visible, and unique historical features, which were too badly rusted, have been replicated.

“The structural elements are all painted black, as in the original colour scheme, including the new ‘U’ frames which strengthen the bridge. The new mesh on the parapets is the same woven mesh used at the Eden Project and is so light that it appears to vanish when viewed from a distance, allowing the structure to appear very much as it did over a hundred years ago.”

Middlewich Big Lock footbridge Middlewich Big Lock footbridge

A welcome reopening

The complex craning operation was followed by several days of finishing works to align footpaths and other surrounding infrastructure. Our volunteers then painted the ramp handrails before a formal opening ceremony on Friday 11 June.

Cllr Mike Hunter, chairman of Middlewich Town Council, was invited to cut a ceremonial ribbon to reopen the Big Lock Footbridge to pedestrians again.

He said, “Thank you to the staff and volunteers of the Canal & River Trust for all the work they do throughout the year and especially for this restoration. The canal plays a very important part in our town both historically and financially. The Trust has ensured that a key part of our town’s history will continue well into the future – and they deserve a great deal of credit for this in these times of financial hardship.”