The Meccano Bridge is the result of an art commission for Little Lever in Bolton.
The extensive consultation period included participatory workshops in which temporary artworks were made by local people. It was during this period that the artist met people from the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society who had demonstrated a desire to replace the old ‘Horse Bridge’ that once crossed the Salford arm at the top of a flight of six locks.
They believed that a bridge there would reroute the temporary footpath allowing the canal to be reconstructed. It was also felt that the bridge would be a catalyst to regenerating a very pleasant semi-rural area and the first stepping stone to the long term aim of restoring the locks. At their suggestion Liam began to develop some designs, working alongside engineers from Bolton Council.
The constraints of the site required a bridge that could be assembled in situ and the idea emerged of building the bridge from scaled-up Meccano.
This trick of scale satisfied the art element and so the bridge design became a very basic, straightforward truss bridge. A scale of 1:10 was chosen and work began on the drawings and sourcing local fabricators who could make the parts which were then galvanized and painted red, green and yellow.
Following the construction of the bridge, the abutment walls were completed and the area landscaped, including two Meccano picnic benches for visitors to admire the scenery. Most importantly, it has brought a community together in a variety of ways and as such the bridge is both real and metaphorical.
Images © Caroline Edge and Liam Curtin