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Zany Engineering Page. The idea for this page started when Alan Clarke submitted the picture below. We must apologise that the Meccano Bridge in Bolton is on a disused canal rather than a disused railway, but it is an exceptional and entertaining structure. (In passing, Bolton is doing plenty with its old railways, as we will demonstrate on the next page or two shortly.) The 'Wheel o Drams' which concludes this page is one of Sustrans' sculpture installations on its National Cycle Network, and re-defines the term 'wagon wheel'. We hope that you will enjoy this presentation of the inventive and unusual.

Above: Okay, we confess! This picture has nothing at all to do with walking or cycling old railways. On the other hand, this is one of the most extraordinary pictures we have ever published, since this is a real vehicle, spotted at the Epping-Ongar Railway by our correspondent. If you can tell us more about this extraordinary vehicle, we would be pleased to hear from you via our Contact page. August 2013. (Alan Clarke)

 
Above: A gentleman steps on to a bridge. But, hey, that bridge doesn't quite look normal! In fact, it's not in the least bit normal: it's the famous 'Meccano Bridge' on the Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal at Nob End, Bolton. The gentleman, by the way, is Ian White, Chairman of Railway Paths Ltd. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Here's what the bridge looks like from the level of the towpath. All around will be found the remains of Prestolee Locks, once the most impressive feature on the canal; this flight consisted of six locks arranged in two staircases of three locks each, with an intermediate hairpin bend just under the bridge on the left. Collectively, these locks raised the canal by 64 ft. in about 200 yds. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A view of the underside of the bridge, showing the ten times normal size Meccano pieces to good effect. This used to be a horse bridge, no. 50 on the canal, although the original span was demolished many years ago. This new version was installed in 2012, built to a design by artist Liam Curtin, and funded and engineered by Bolton Council. The main contractor was the Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal Society, which provided extra finance and voluntary labour. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A photograph of the complete bridge, showing the site of an infilled lock and, on the right, the interpretation panel which informed ths captions on this page. The original span was made from timber, which is why it failed to survive. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The Meccano Bridge leads to a picnic area, which – of course! – is also made from Meccano pieces at ten times the normal size. The obelisk in the centre of this area is a monumental milestone, close to the original installed by the canal builders. The cog shape of its plinth continues the mechanical theme. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A close up of one of the Meccano tables. We hope that James May is familiar with this site. Visitors to these pages may recall that, in an edition of his 'Toy Stories' television series, he and his team built a bridge from normal sized Meccano over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Liverpool. Scaling up the pieces tenfold must have made the mechanics of this job in Bolton a lot easier. 25th June 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Left: The 'Wheel o Drams' at Maesycymmer in south Wales, near the restored Hengoed Viaduct, stands on Sustrans' Celtic Trail, which links Hengoed with Quaker's Yard, largely via disused railways. This sculpture by Andy Hazell was unveiled in 2000 at the time that the restoration of Hengoed Viaduct was completed. 21st September 2008. (Darren Wyn Rees, used under the terms of the creative commons licence on this web page)