This is a view taken from the wooden bridge that used to span the cutting between Cavendish Park & Aureol House. The railway lines in the photo ran from Shipyard (Island Road) station, joining the dock lines at Shipyard Junction then on to the Cradle Bridge. The spur off to the left went into the Vickers, (BAE), Buccleuch Dock wharf, which ran right up to Michaelson Road. (High Level), bridge. The spur to the right ran into the Oil Wells, note the rail tankers. In this very old photo, the Cradle Bridge leading to the main Carnforth - Barrow line that lies straight ahead, can’t be seen. But see below.
BUCCLEUCH DOCK "Cradle" BRIDGE Buccleuch Dock Bridge was a vital link connecting the whole of the north side of Ramsden Dock's rail system with the main line at Salthouse Junction. More commonly known as the 'Cradle Bridge,' because of its shape and lifting action, it traversed the docks system at the point where Buccleuch and Ramsden Docks meet. It replaced the earlier eighty feet wide swing bridge, built in 1879 - which replaced the earlier embankment. The Barrow Island side of the bridge was built at a place known in Michaelson's day as Cunninger point. This small promontory jutted out into Barrow Channel to form a bay on its north side known as Welshman's Bay due its popularity with Welsh Skippers seeking sheltered waters while waiting for a berth to load iron ore at the town wharves. The Cradle Bridge, more properly called a Highway and Railway Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge, was invented by an American Civil Engineer called William Scherzer. The Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company of Chicago, Illinois held the world patents on the design and a plaque to that effect was riveted to the finished bridge. Erected by John Aird and Co, under the supervision of Furness Railway Engineer Sir Benjamin Baker, it was made from those old favourites; cast and wrought iron. The contract specification drawn up in 1906-4 called for a single leaf bridge 110 feet long by 26 feet wide capable of fully opening in one minute, under normal conditions. This no mean feat was achieved by hydraulic power. Taking its supply at 650psi from a water main, each of the two hydraulic engines which were suspended under the operator's cabin that straddled the road and railway, produced 60hp at 350rpm. One engine was capable of lifting the bridge with the other in reserve and if all else failed, in a dire emergency the bridge could be lifted by hand. This new Barrow landmark was officially opened on 12th October 1908. Political decisions taken in the 1960's ensured the gradual decline of the railways nationally and guaranteed road transport supremacy. This doctrine continues to be pursed with a maniacal glee by the present government, to the point where in the 21st century all that will remain will be a few hundred miles of profitable main line.* [see footnote]. If that is found hard to believe, the trend is never more visually apparent than on the north & south sides of Ramsden Dock. Where once the whole area was overspread with glistening iron spaghetti of rails: Not one rail now exists. The closure of, first Millom and then Barrow Iron Works in the 60's reduced the need for imports of iron ore from Norway through Barrow. Contrast this with a century earlier where the growth of Barrow could not be achieved quickly enough to handle the export of iron ore for use elsewhere. The closure of Millom's iron works especially spelt the demise of the Cradle Bridge as all the ore traveled over this link to the main line and then to Millom. The Cradle Bridge was also the link from the main line to Shipyard Junction in Island Road. From a peak in World War II of five - ten coach trains a day, bringing workers from the surrounding area to zero when the trains were re-routed to Barrow Central Station. In 1966 the Cradle Bridge was declared unsafe and in December of that year it closed to rail traffic. There followed an ongoing wrangle between the Docks Board and British Railways over maintenance and repair costs, a matter of some £30,000. This was the last rivet in the bridge's coffin. So this magnificent structure went from cradle to grave in 65 years when it was demolished in 1971. The work to widen the passage between Ramsden and Buccleuch Docks for the Trident class submarines has now obliterated any last sign of the Cradle Bridge's existence. Cunninger Point is no longer a point and Welshman's Bay consequently wouldn't provide shelter to a seagull. In 1890, Joseph Fisher in his ''Popular History of Barrow,'' noted - "Mullet were plentiful" in Welshman's Bay. This was true even after the Cradle Bridge was built. Until 1989 large Mullet could often be seen under the wooden dolphins on the Buccleuch Dock side of the [now demolished] bridge. In one surreal episode, me & my mate Marshall fished for Mullet - using Polo Mints as bait, which he assured me Mullet loved; we almost caught one!! The latest bout of dredging seems once again to have frightened them off. FlatEarth (Internet) Publications. All rights reserved. October 2000.
Cunninger Point: Old & New blended picture. Thanks to Paul Culley - again!
Under construction 1907
Left: Japanese, Vickers built warship ‘Kongo’ passes through the Cradle Bridge. Above: Steam train carries shipyard workers home to Grange or Millom. 1954.
A splendid view from the wooden footbridge above my Uncle Ted’s signal box. The 0-6-0 Webb engine with what looks to be a rather large tender looks like he’s been doing a spot of shunting The cradle bridge can be seen clearly in this pic, as can the ADEB buildings. I’m guessing the picture dates from the early 1950s because on the right Roosecote coal fired Power Station is under construction. It came on stream in 1954, so this pic c.1953?
Shipyard Junction leading into Island Road Station.Uncle Ted’s signal box & the wooden footbridge can be seen in the distance
Shipyard worker’s train heads for the Cradle bridge. The hill on the left led to Aureol House and to the wooden footbridge
SS Magdapur towed by tug Walney?
Admirante Saldanha a sail training ship built in 1934 for the Brazilian Navy passes through the Cradle Bridge
Island Road Station (Shipyard Junction)
Shipyard Junction opened in 1899 was used to enable Vickers (BAE) workers to commute directly between the shipyard and nearby towns served by the Furness Railway. There were two trains a day, (four - ten coach trains a day during WWI). One went north to Millom & the other south to Grange. In 1901 it carried more than 1700 workers daily and such was the demand that another platform was added in 1915. Although the station was never intended for general public use, a limited number of excursion services started in 1915. Popular excursion trips for Rugby League matches and Sunday School outings were run occasionally. The closure of Millom's Iron Works in 1963 was the first nail in the Cradle Bridge's demise which was the link from the mainline at Salthouse Junction to Island Road. This railway link was severed in 1966 when the famous Cradle Bridge across the docks was closed permanently for safety reasons. (see above). This of course, lead to the station falling into disrepair.
The car parking peoblem on Barrow island wouldn’t be half as bad if these still ran.
Not so pretty before the trees grew.
Before and After
Then and Now
The arrows point to all that is left of the station & right: a ghost train.
Stanier ‘Black Five’ shunts the carriages
Before & After the Cradle Bridge was closed, desolation.
Above and below: Uncle Ted’s signal box