Waterfront - Over and Under

A feature looking at the curious history of different bridges on the canal network across the UK.

"You might notice that the towpath sometimes switches to the opposite side of the canal. This may have originally come down to a landowner who refused to allow the canal path to run through their land, but it was also to ensure that the pull on the horse’s shoulder was balanced. To avoid the time consuming and awkward task of unhitching the horse, roving or turnover bridges were invented. Different regions adopted their own unique approach… 

The Macclesfield Canal is known for its beautiful stone bridges; some of its finest are six turnover bridges, locally known as ‘snake’ bridges. A ramp on one side leads up onto the overpass, which then spirals back under the bridge on the opposite bank, allowing the horse to ascend, cross and descend, without obstructing the tow rope. The smooth, stone form prevented the line from snagging, although if you look closely you may see the stonework worn away in places. This is evidence of decades of ropes running over the stone’s surface."

Excerpt from Waterfront, June 2017, Words only.