NORTH WEST MECCANO GUILD
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have any Meccano to re-
Click “North West” for information about Meccano on display and Meccano related locations in the North West of England.
Giant Meccano Bridge
At Nob End, Little Lever, Bolton
The Bridge was designed to be an artistic but useful feature. It replaces a simple wooden bridge which allowed boatmen and horses to cross the top chamber of the Prestolee flight of locks on the Manchester, Bury and Bolton Canal, where the towpath changes sides. When it was demolished or fell to bits, the canal was dry at this point due the large breach in the canal some distance from the bridge in the direction of Bury. A rough footpath across the bed of the large, now dry, basin which had been provided to allow boats to turn into the Bolton Branch had to be used instead. It is hoped to refill this basin and connect it to the stretch of the Bolton Branch which is in water. Doing this would make the bridge an essential link in the public footpath as well as make an attractive feature on the canal in its own right.
Access to the site by machinery of even modest size is impossible due to the breach, so a bridge capable of being erected manually was needed. The artist, Liam Curtin, had been commissioned to produce an outdoor work of art in Bolton, and found that this was excellent site and experience as a boy with Meccano suggested that building the bridge from scaled up Meccano parts would a good, practical, and colourful solution.
His original design was, as one would expect, made with standard Meccano, although
a hacksaw was used to produce parts not readily available. The actual bridge is made
of Meccano scaled up 10 times. There are a few non-
The structure is amply strong enough and was tested with a large number of people at the “Grand Opening”. It does appear to have small sag, probably due to the fact that Meccano Bolts are not, as they should be being enlarged replicas of Meccano parts, a tight fit in the holes.
The parts were made by one Bolton firm and the nuts and bolts by another. The threads on the bolts have been damaged to prevent the bridge being easily dismantled.
More information, including videos taken during the construction of the bridge, can be found at:
More photographs and other information are to be seen on:
Click on “Galleries”, then “User Galleries” , and find Mike Walker’s and Dick Watson’s galleries (not on the first page of users)
Latest News (2020).
There are now two swans in residence again. They have repaired the nest at the beginning of the Bolton Branch.
Vegetation has been cleared from both flights of locks and it is proposed to get water into those near the Meccano Bridge. Some work has been done on the brick walls near the bridge. The approach road has been resurfaced. It is also proposed to repair the breach near the end of the turning basin and restore navigation to Radcliffe.
The bridge looks almost as good as new but it was noted that a little of the paint is peeling off to reveal the galvanised surface below.
The fame of the bridge has reached the town of Police in the Czech Republic where the spirit of Binns Road lives on. Merkur (a construction system like Meccano scaled down by a factor of 1.27) is manufactured there. Its website uses clip from a picture of the bridge as an icon on its parts page:
Merkur also produces other products similar to Binns Road ones including Gauge O Railway rolling stock and track.
Work is in progress on the top lock and adjoining, now dry, basin and a playlist of videos showing the route of the canal can be found at:
The Picnic Tables
Near by, some picnic tables made of giant Meccano have been provided. Rather surprisingly, the 11 hole x 5 hole Flanged Plates are made of the thicker material used for Meccano Strips rather than the slightly thinner sort used for the Flanged Plates. This must have made them hard work to make. As you can see in the photograph, the tables are firmly set in concrete.
Since the photograph was taken, the picnic area has been much improved. It is well surfaced and has gardens around it.
A Giant Meccano Garden Seat has now been been added.
The bridge was visited recently and found to be in good condition and free from graffiti.
The bridge can be found near the Western edge of OS Explorer map 277 and on Landranger map 109.
It is just off Prestolee Road, Little Lever near to its end-
The quickest way to visit it is to drive to the centre of Little Lever and turn down Mytham Road, then right into Boscow Road. You should be able to park near the end of Boscow Road. It is then a short walk to the bridge past a cattery.
You can get a 524 bus from Bolton Bus Station, Stand J, (just outside the Railway Station) to Little Lever. It takes about 20 minutes. This bus also passes Moses Gate (for the National Rail Station) and Radcliffe (for the Metrolink Station). It finishes its journey at Bury (for the East Lancashire Railway). The railway between Manchester, Moses Gate and Bolton has, at last, been electrified.
You will pass a shop, just off Mytham Road which sells a small selection of sandwiches and other essentials, otherwise you can try the Jolly Carter for sustenance, which is at the Western end of the village.
A good circular walk is described in:
This starts at Moses Gate Country Park Car Park which is near Moses Gate Railway Station (hourly weekday trains from Manchester Victoria and Bolton. From Manchester Piccadilly change at Salford Crescent or Bolton).
Another good approach is from Fold Road, Kearsley. Park near the Horseshoe Inn (good food)( GR SD764054 M26 1FT ).
Follow the footpath sign on the side of the road nearly opposite the pub. This takes
you along the canal towpath. At first, the canal is dry but soon it begins to look
like a canal. After crossing an aqueduct over the River Irwell, you arrive at the
large basin the bottom of Prestolee locks. Looking up the flight of locks, you get
a fine view of the bridge high above you. Follow the path over the remains of a dry-
Video of the Opening Ceremory.