The Peter A. Norton Archive, 1955 - 1959, the Final Working Years ( Part 1)
Peter Norton died shortly before SCARS was formed, but he influenced the Society's formation through the publication of his "Railways and Waterways to Warrington" (Cheshire Libraries & Museums, 1984). This large format survey of the subject was well illustrated with many of his own photographs, taken from the mid-fifties.
The Sankey features prominently, and brought the then-derelict canal back into the attention of the general public. The book is described as a "Second Edition" - the first having been published in 1974 by the Railway and Canal Historical Society as a much smaller, unillustrated booklet under the title of "Waterways and Railways to Warrington".
Many of the additional illustrations in the later book were supplied by Society Members.Peter carried out research for a number of waterways authors, painstakingly copying out Boat Register entries, newspaper articles, and other data. His photographs have also appeared in the works of others.
Please click on individual image for further notes.
A wooden maintenance float with a crane attached moored up at Penketh. A number of maintenance vessels existed on the Sankey, many of which feature in this Archive. Sadly no images appear to exist of the ice breaker.
A goods train steaming alongside the canal behind the works of Rubery Owen, near Sankey Bridges. Peter Norton worked here at the time.
Two views of the Sankey Bridges railway swing bridge platform. The Warrington - Widnes railway ceased to carry passengers in 1950, and the platforms were still intact when this view was taken in about 1957.
After the closure of the canal the signal box was no longer required and was removed. The station platforms were looking very dilapidated by this time. The mechanism for swinging the bridge is more clearly visible between the lines in this view, taken probably in 1960.
Two of Burton's "sugar boats", the ELLESWEIR (built in steel for the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company to carry from Liverpool to Ellesmere Port by Yarwoods, Northwich, in 1924), and the FANNY BURTON (built in wood by Burtons at Bromborough in 1938).
The same two boats viewed from the railway towards the road bridges. The electrically-operated bascule bridge, built by Pearson and Knowles in 1915, is most prominent, but the relief swing bridge may also be seen. The steering arrangement on the steamer ELLESWEIR is worthy of note - apart from the exposed position which must have been windy out on the Mersey - the wheel is geared back to the rudder over the engine box, and was steered from behind the back of the helmsman!
The swing bridge would have been used when maintenance was being carried out on the main bridge. As this carried the A57, the main Liverpool - Warrington - London road, this would have been very inconvenient to traffic. The original wooden swing bridge here had to be replaced as the weight of road traffic increased. It is significant that this occurred during the First World War, when Liverpool played such a vital role in keeping keeping the nation supplied.
The bascule bridge from the North, with the Mersey White Lead Works alongside. A maintenance float is moored alongside the yard of Clare and Ridgeway, whose offices can be seen on the opposite bank. This company built boats and launched them, sideways, into the canal until 1913. A dry dock (see Barker Archive) was also on the left hand bank.
A maintenance float from the side of the bascule bridge.
The Cheshire Lines Committee's "Seven Arches" viaduct carries the Liverpool - Manchester line across the Sankey Valley, crossing both brook and canal, but at a lower height than Stephenson's Earlestown viaduct. The canal and river are on opposite sides of the valley from their Earlestown position, after the river's crossing of the canal at Dallam (see Barker archive). A train from Manchester crosses the viaduct.
A train travelling from Liverpool crosses the eighth aperture - the bridge may be known as the "Seven Arches" - but there are eight spaces in its structure. There are signs of some kind of fittings having been attached to the bridge on both sides of the square portal, but we have yet to find plans, drawings, or illustrations to show how the masts of Mersey flats were accommodated here - Stephenson built a fixed arch high enough for them to sail under. Was there a moving bridge here?