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Information - Victoria's so-called 'Cattle Bridge'


mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Hi all, with the help of a couple of other people I have of late been doing a bit of research on the 'cattle bridge' in the Optimus Prime culvert. There's a lot of misinformation about this structure.

For a start, it is a certainty that the bridge existed no earlier than the nineteenth century; indeed, it isn't a cattle bridge. It is worth remembering that, before this time, the surface of Manchester wasn't at that level; it wasn't much higher than the banks of the river at this point, in fact

The Irk at Walkers Croft was banked by the Grammar School Mills. The 'cattle bridge' which existed at this point (it is doubtful it was anything more than a simple thoroughfare) was reached by walking down Todd Street and then onto Mill Brow. It was very close to the surface of the water, and a crossing has existed on this site since Medieval times.

22050325_10212836189956189_5675595675539750615_n9a392.jpg


When Victoria station was built as Hunts Bank, this bridge was repurposed as the main entrance point to the station from the east. While it no longer exists, one is able to easily trace its route - simply walk down Todd Street and onto Victoria Approach, it would've been directly below your feet.

overlay12fa872.jpg

overlay22b65f0.jpg


The bridge that exists today is slightly further north than this, positioned beneath the station's frontage. It dates from between the completion of Corporation Street, and the culverting of the Irk. As such, it is doubtful that it appears on any map from the time; from what I can tell, it was not on the surface for too long! This bridge's sole purpose was for access to the station from Corporation Street, and was likely accessed from the bottom of Howarths Gates, past the Mills mentioned earlier.

21765283_1908047452781554_8939651469393742612_n813a7.jpg


The bridge in the background is the so-called 'cattle bridge'. You will note I am sure that it doesn't look completely identical - close analysis of the bridge today reveals that the bowed floor is a later addition: the iron framework (which also serves to date it) only covers this part of it, whereas the original structure looks to have been held up by timber. No doubt its sides only reached up to torso height, and that the addition of the bowed base not only serves to support the bridge within the confines of the tunnel, but to lower it to allow passage beneath the roof of the culvert.

I have access to Digimap through my university and I am working on a very high-res overlay - if anyone's interested in this, drop me a line.
 

Nickindroy

A Porky Prime Cut
Regular User
On your overlay, difficult as it is to make out, It appears to be in the same place as it currently stands. If there's anything further north, they've built it in the last couple of months!
 

Ojay

Admin
Staff member
Admin
As luck would have it I just found my field notes from a visit with the trundle wheel a few years back, them findings and even your own overlay place it in the exact spot

The question remains, has Matthew Holmes been here, any photographic evidence would be greatly appreciated
 

mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
TBH it looks to be on the right spot to me, will actually go and take some proper measurements and re-do an overlay when I get a minute
Would be interested to see that!

Best way to tell would probably be to get into the Walkers Croft tunnel and work out where the entrance door is with respect to Todd Street?

The photo shows that the lower bridge corresponds in location with the mills marked out on the map, though.

There's also this contemporary illustration showing several bridges crossing the Irk:

IMG_20170927_214321205e9004.jpg


Tom Wray's book marks these bridges, from bottom up, as 'Scotland Bridge at the foot of Red Bank', then Tanners bridge, Mill Brow, and finally Hunts Bank bridge just before the outflow into the Irwell.

If the 'cattle bridge' is as old as people say it's likely to be Tanners bridge, the apparently wooden structure, but this is far too close to the present entrance to Optimus Prime to be our target. As can be seen, the only other bridge there is Mill Brow, which is distinctly different to the one in the photograph - since it's an arch! I would wager that this is the original medieval bridge on the site, hence why the 1790s OS map I posted shows evidence of buttresses.

I would therefore speculate that this bridge fell into disrepair or even became incompatible with the surrounding industrialisation, and was replaced by the cheap timber construction seen in the photograph above, which itself was replaced by the 'cattle bridge', before the river was culverted soon after.
 

mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
As luck would have it I just found my field notes from a visit with the trundle wheel a few years back, them findings and even your own overlay place it in the exact spot
Well, the overlay I posted only shows a bridge at the bottom of Mill Brow, which I'm suggesting isn't the bridge that still exists! I think that bridge is the one close to the water in the photo.
 

mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
That's the old Hunts Bank bridge isn't it? Can't be the arch in the illustration above if so as it's not close enough to the Irwell.

irk1f41e1.jpg
 

Ojay

Admin
Staff member
Admin
Yep, this is the long lost and buried 'Hunts Bank Bridge'



The "Cattle Bridge" is also in the right place for Long Mill Gate ;)



Excuse the shitty old pics, I do have better ones, but don't have the drive handy ATM sadly
 

Nickindroy

A Porky Prime Cut
Regular User
This excerpt of a map by Tinkler from 1772 appears to shows both, in the right place.

cPsXIhS.jpg
 

mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
It's in the right place for Long Mill Gate, sure, but is it in the right place for the long lost Mill Brow? The only way of determining that would be to determine just how far within Walkers Croft tunnel the bridge is, and translate that onto a map. As it stands, I'm still convinced that the one on my map is the one just above the water:

numberscdfb4.jpg


Check out the shape of the mills relative to that really low bridge in the foreground and you'll see that that really is the one on the map, whereas the taller bridge in the background which still exists isn't indicated!
 

mda63

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
This excerpt of a map by Tinkler from 1772 appears to shows both, in the right place.
Not sure what you mean that it shows both - Todd Lane off Long Mill Gate is indicated above the number 19, and only one bridge is shown at that location, which I suggest is the low bridge shown in the photo I've posted.
 

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