Thursday, 2 October 2008

Exploring the Anderton Lift

Still moored above the Lift.

Once we were all sorted on our mooring we decided it was ice cream time so we returned to the visitor centre for the said ice cream's and another look at the displays in the visitor centre.

Well there is only one way to describe the lift and that is from the beginning which was 1875. The original lift was built to try and speed up the shipment of salt to Liverpool as it was originally transshipped from barges on the Trent & Mersey down chutes to larger vessels down on the Weaver. With Brunner Mond building a new plant on the other side of the Weaver they also needed to get coal delivered and salt shipped out, so the lift was built to speed up the whole process. Barges carrying fragile freight from the Potteries would also be able to take advantage of this short cut because they couldn't use the chutes to transship their loads.

The original design of the lift was, as it is now, hydraulic except that originally is used water whereas now it uses oil. The water was the downfall in the beginning because it was so toxic that it corroded everything and the hydraulic system was for ever breaking down. Repairs using copper just aggravated the corrosion as it react with the metal causing more problems.

In 1887 Colonel J Saner joined the Weaver Navigation trust and in 1908, after a 6 month closure converted the lift to an electric system using electric motors, cables and balance weights. The modifications entailed building another deck on top of the existing structure to carry the motors, gear wheels and pulleys and they also had to reinforce the framework holding it all up. Most of this is still visible on top of the lift but is no longer in use.

The lift continued in this guise until usage dropped away until 1983 when it was declared unsafe and closed. When the lift started in 1875 the tonnage passing through was 31294 tons and it peaked in 1906 at 192181 tons and there after declining. After closure English Heritage declared it a monument to the industrial era worthy of restoring so along with the Trent & Mersey Canal Society and many others the task of restoring it took place. Using corrosive resistant materials the lift was re-built to the original hydraulic design and re-opened in 2002.

A lot of the old equipment is still on display and the old counter balance weights have been made into a maze to amuse the children.With the visitor centre, viewing platform, picnic area and the trip boat Edwin Clark, named after the lifts founder, the lift is a very popular tourist attraction. The trip boat has also been used for functions and a wedding so its future looks secure. We feel privileged to have travelled on/in this amazing piece of 19th century machinery which was years ahead of its time. Long may it continue.

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