Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Lift Bridges on the Oxford Canal

IMG_0035 LB170

There are quite a few of these lift bridges on the Oxford Canal. Sometimes they are easy to open and sometimes not, especially if they are wet when they can weigh much heavier. On dry days children can operate them as we saw when we were down near Somerton. When they are wet and heavy you need to be about fourteen stone to be able to pull on the chain to bring the beam down, then throw yourself onto it to keep it down. There are no fixing devices for single handed boaters to use to keep the bridge up while they take their boat through. So they either have to rely on kind passers by to do it for them, or use a ‘Banbury Stick’. This means heaving the bridge up from the non-beam side and quickly sticking a pole under it to keep it open to pass under it. BW are electrifying the one at Thrupp because some chap approached the bridge, walked up the beam jumped off the end and broke both his legs. So, all the other lift bridges must also be classed as dangerous too mustn't they? I wonder what solution BW will come up with to make their operation safer as many of them are miles away from a source of electricity.

IMG_0036The whole bridge pivots and rolls on this simple but ingenious cast iron toothed arrangement. I wonder if these are the original ones which were installed when the canal was built c1770? Obviously the wooden parts of the bridges have been replaced many times over the years. Btw I heard the Cuckoo for the first time on Saturday down near Somerton, have you heard it yet?

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