History in Structure

Bridgewater Canal Pickering's Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Grappenhall and Thelwall, Warrington

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Latitude: 53.3778 / 53°22'39"N

Longitude: -2.5259 / 2°31'33"W

OS Eastings: 365109

OS Northings: 386897

OS Grid: SJ651868

Mapcode National: GBR BYSC.YW

Mapcode Global: WH98S.5CFC

Plus Code: 9C5V9FHF+4J

Entry Name: Bridgewater Canal Pickering's Bridge

Listing Date: 4 October 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1457565

ID on this website: 101457565

Location: Thelwall, Warrington, Cheshire, WA4

County: Warrington

Civil Parish: Grappenhall and Thelwall

Built-Up Area: Warrington

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure Accommodation bridge


Canal Bridge (accommodation), 1770, by James Brindley for the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal.


Canal Bridge (accommodation), 1770, by James Brindley, for the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal.

MATERIALS: red brick in English Garden Wall bond, with ashlar sandstone dressings.

PLAN: rectangular-plan, single-span accommodation bridge with curved splayed abutments and wing walls.

DESCRIPTION: single-span, segmental arch with brick soffit and voussoirs, beneath a projecting ashlar sandstone band that springs from ashlar skew back stones, set within the splayed abutments. The bridge has a secondary humped concrete road surface over the arch, with steep macadamised gravel approaches. The parapet walls have flush sandstone coping stones, which step down over the curved wing walls. The coping stones exhibit mason's marks and their upper surfaces have incised graffiti. The canal banks beneath the bridge have sandstone block retaining walls that are inclined and canted back to either side of the abutments, and the tow path under the arch on the northern side is laid with stone sets. There are patches of repair to the brickwork, including some hard orange-coloured bull nose bricks, which have been used in alternate bands to infill the former timber roller recesses in the corners of the north abutment; these bricks exhibit damage and grooves caused by repeated rubbing by barge tow ropes. There is a small carved stone head on the outer face of the south-east wing wall, with a legend beneath incised into wet cement that reads: FRANK. Some of the coping stones have been replaced in brick and concrete, particularly in the west parapet wall; otherwise the bridge remains largely unaltered. A late-C20 aluminium rectangular name plate is attached to the ashlar band of the west arch, which reads: PICKERINGS BRIDGE in green raised lettering, on a white ground.


The Bridgwater Canal received the Royal Assent on 23 March 1759, and was the forerunner of all modern canals in that it followed a route independent of all existing natural watercourses. It was built by Francis Egerton, third Duke of Bridgwater, to enable coal from his mines at Worsley to be transported to Manchester and sold cheaply. His engineers were James Brindley and John Gilbert and the first section of the canal was opened on 17 July 1761. In 1762 the Duke received sanction to extend his canal to the Liverpool tideway at Runcorn - this was later amended to connect with the new Trent and Mersey Canal at Preston Brook. The route between Leigh and Runcorn was fully opened in 1776. In 1872 the newly formed Bridgwater Navigation Company purchased the canal for £1,120,000 and they in turn sold it to the Manchester Ship Canal Company in 1885.

The construction of the canal divided the landscape in a way that had not been seen before, proving to be an obstacle to movement within pre-existing land holdings and farms; consequently, accommodation bridges had to be built to permit the movement of goods and livestock from one side to the other. Pickering's Bridge was such a bridge; it was completed in 1770 to a design by James Brindley, to carry an estate track belonging to Thelwall Hall Estate to land on the southern side of the Bridgewater Canal. The track linked Thelwall Road in the north with Waste Lane to the south, crossing Stockport Road on the way. Like a number of the bridges on the canal, Pickering's Bridge had an eponymous title and was named after the Pickering family of Thelwall Hall. There are a number of Grade II-listed bridges built to a similar design along the length of the canal, these including: Grappenhall Bridge (National Heritage List for England (NHLE) 1329797), Thomason's Bridge (NHLE 1312953), Walton Bridge (NHLE 1139316) and Hough's Bridge (1329774). All of the bridges deviate slightly in appearance from one another, dependent upon topography, the angle of approach of roads, and various minor historic repairs.

Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803) was an aristocratic entrepreneur with extensive estates, who had the vision, wealth and connections to build the Bridgewater Canal, England’s first arterial canal. James Brindley (1716-1772) is considered to be the pioneering engineer of the English canal system, having been the principle engineer on numerous canals, including the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Oxford Canal, and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Reasons for Listing

Pickering’s Bridge, 1770 by James Brindley, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it dates from a period when most canal buildings surviving in anything like their original form, are likely to be listed;
* the bridge is largely unaltered in plan and retains significant original detailing;
* it is an early example of an accommodation bridge, an innovative form of structure at the time of its construction in 1770.

Historic interest:

* an integral part of the historically significant and innovative Bridgewater Canal, built and designed by James Brindley for Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater;
* James Brindley is recognised as being the pre-eminent pioneering canal engineer of the C18.

Group value:

* the bridge is an integral part of the canal's original design and construction; it shares spatial and historic group value with a number of Grade II-listed bridges and aqueducts along the length of the canal.

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