It was a sunny day so my daughter and I decided to take a walk around Moses Gate Country Park and see the giant Meccano Bridge at Prestolee Locks.
We parked the car at the main car park and walked a short distance to the largest of Crompton’s Lodges, once the water supply for Farnworth Paper Mill. My daughter fed the swans for a while but it wasn’t long before she got bored and wanted to go to the playground.
We stayed at the playground for about half an hour. There’s a good range of equipment, laid out in an adventure style course. Then we followed the path running along the bank of the River Croal, eventually reaching Red Bridge.
Crossing the steel bridge took us through an open field and then up to Canal Wood, an area of woodland to the south of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. We followed a path for about half a mile, coming out of tree cover at Nob End.
Nob End is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest. Contamination from an old chemical works provides alkaline soil conditions in which orchids can flourish. The area is also riddled with old mine workings, which have now been capped.
We then headed in a north-easterly direction to the Prestolee Locks. These were once one of the most notable features of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. At one time there were six locks here, arranged in two sets of three, raising the canal over 60 feet.
Many years ago there was a wooden bridge at the top of the locks. It allowed horses and boatmen to cross the canal as the towpath changed sides. In 2013 a giant Meccano Bridge opened on the same site. The bridge spans 21 feet and is built with Meccano-like steel plates, ten times the size of regular pieces. It’s an interesting concept; scaled-down engineering, scaled back up. At the foot of the bridge there’s a picnic area with Meccano-style tables.
The bridge was designed by artist Liam Curtin and built by members of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society. Other examples of Curtin’s work can be seen at the Great Promenade Show in Blackpool.
After exploring the area around Prestolee Locks we heading back to the car, taking the same route we used to get there.