Lifting Heavy Loads

Traditional Techniques: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2013

Euan Corrie

Euan Corrie looks at how heavy weights were lifted in the days before mechanical handling

Ha’penny Bridge spans the Grand Junction Canal’s Paddington Arm at Wedlake Street, just off the Harrow Road. These photographs, taken on 4th May 1905, are from the collection of Anthony J. Walker and show clearly that its girders were placed on the piers using only muscle power! The girders were apparently brought to the site on a wooden lighter and the view (above) shows one being jacked and lifted to the vertical before being positioned for lifting into its final resting place. It will be noted that care has been taken to leave most of the width of the waterway for the heavy traffic which used the arm at that time. These photographs are fine illustrations of the riggers’ art which is rarely to be seen nowadays. The small winch on the mud hopper in the foreground (right, top) has been used in conjunction with the king post to assist in jacking the girder upright. Work is now in hand to temporarily secure it there. The winch is heavily chained to the mud boat and fir…

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