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Although the bridge on Leigh Road near to the entrance to Eckersley Fold Lane is one of the oldest features in our village, very little is known about the origins of the bridge and how it got its name, there has been lots of speculation but nothing has been proved.

One theory is that it got its name from the word “ Howe “ meaning small hills, mounds or rises in the land nearby, but, no proof.

Another theory is that it got its name from the method of construction “ Howe Truss “ but again there is no proof, one point raised against the Howe Truss method is that it was only invented in 1840, several years after both Atherton and Leigh were created as occupied  communities, although, there are no records of any roads being built between the two settlements it seems quite inconceivable that access links were not built.

What we do know is that for a long time the road through Howe Bridge has been a major thoroughfare  between Leigh and Bolton via Atherton.

It would be very interesting if anyone has any history of the bridge and its origins, although many unsuccessful requests have been made via social media sites and many local history books have been researched.

Example of a “ HOWE TRUSS BRIDGE “


Howe truss is a truss bridge consisting of chords, verticals, and diagonals whose vertical members are in tension and whose diagonal members are in compression. The Howe truss was invented by William Howe in 1840, and was widely used as a bridge in the mid to late 1800s.

The Howe truss bridge consists of an upper and lower "chord" each chord consisting of two parallel beams and each chord parallel to one another. The web consists of verticals, braces, and counter-braces. Vertical posts connect the upper and lower chords to one another, and create "panels". A diagonal brace in each panel strengthens the bridge, and a diagonal counter-brace in each panel enhances this strength. Howe truss bridges may be all wood, a combination of wood and iron, or all iron. Whichever design is used, wooden timbers should have square ends without mortise and tenons. The design of an all-metal Howe truss follows that of the wooden truss.

If the Howe Truss method was used originally in the construction of the bridge, the  existing bridge has been modified to suit more modern methods of transport.

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