The Lift Bridge is in the news because the Planning
Committee are urging the Government to speed up a decision on
whether or not they approve recommendations to demolish the
bridge and build a fly-over road.
This week the "Times" asked the
man who knows more about the bridge than anybody else what he
thought about the idea. "Rubbish", said Jim. "They
want to knock down this bridge because of the traffic congestion,
but the traffic lights further up the road cause more stoppages
than we do."
He pointed out that the whole lifting operation
on the bridge takes an average of 3 minutes from start to finish.
He lifted the bridge only 12 times each day-a total stoppage
time of less than three-quarters of an hour.
"The traffic lights stop traffic every
minute and a half for about a minute. That runs into hours each
day." He added.
Jim was a plumber before he took the job of
toll collector on the bridge 25 years ago, just five years after
the bridge had been built.
Since that time he's lifted the 46-ton roadway
11 feet above the canal more than 100,000 times. The bridge
is electrically operated and works on the counter-balance system.
Each of the four counter-weights is ten tons.
When Jim began working on the bridge, 53 wooden or steel barges
passed through each day. Now he lifts the bridge only twelve times
each day to barges carrying coal from Chevington (Wigan) to Liverpool's
Athol Street Gasworks.
Lately pack ice over the canal stopped barges
from reaching the Lift Bridge, but lorries have been bringing
the coal to the casual quay at Litherland to load the barges to Liverpool..
The Athol Street Gasworks are supplied with 400 tons of coal each day by the
As a barge approaches the bridge it will blow
its horn to let Jim know of its arrival. If the bargemaster hasn't
a contract with British Waterways Commission Jim charges him a toll ranging
from 1s.(5p) to 6s.(30p) per ton.
Jim operates two levers in his control post.
One sets off lights and bells to warn traffic that the bridge
will be lowered. The second operates the beams that fall across the road and
lifts the bridge.
Jim Lovelady is a 20th Century Horatio
defending his bridge against any threat.