Dear M. Boschi,
My name is Mark Whittaker and I run The Marple Website, the community site for Marple in Stockport, near Manchester. I'm writing to you because I've recently discovered your web site covering the comprehensive history of the firm Mather and Platt. I found this whilst searching the Internet for information about the Salford Iron Works and the names Bateman and Sherratt.
The reason for my search lies in the fact that in one of our local parks we have an old cast iron carriage bridge that was built over the river Goyt in 1813. The Salford Iron Works built it for Nathaniel Wright, owner of the estate. We know this because the name and date are cast into the apex members of the bridge.
Following the death of the last of Wright's descendants in 1947 the local authority, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC), purchased the estate. They demolished the hall and turned the estate into a public park. Unfortunately there was little maintenance carried out on the bridge after this time and it began to fall into decay. In 1991 it had deteriorated to the extent that it was declared unsafe and, because there were insufficient funds to make a proper repair, a temporary bailey bridge was erected across it. Sadly nothing further was done to halt the bridge's decline and today it is in a very poor condition, although thankfully not yet beyond repair.
For the last 12 months The Marple Website has been campaigning for the bridge to be restored to its former glory. You can read more about this on-line at http://www.marple-uk.com/ironbridge.htm The campaign has gathered a great deal of support from within the local community and we are now in discussion with SMBC about how the restoration can be achieved. They are showing a willingness to do this but unfortunately lack of funding is a major problem that we will have to overcome together.
We have estimates for a phased approach to the restoration, the first of which is a detailed investigation into the condition of the bridge, to establish exactly what the full scope of work entails. The cost of this first phase is approximately £13,000, with the present estimate of the total cost being £120,000.
Unfortunately SMBC do not even have this initial amount at their disposal, so we are currently investigating ways of raising the money from within the local community and by application for grant aid. Once the first phase is completed we hope to be able to use this information to make a detailed application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the bulk of funds required to complete the restoration work.
Making a successful application for a HLF grant is not a simple task and a great deal of effort has to be put into substantiating it. To this end we hope to construct a strong heritage argument to support the application and need to establish as much information about the bridge and its place in history as possible. This brings me at last to the reason for making contact with you.
We've been trying to learn more about the people involved in the bridge's construction and have visited local libraries and searched the Internet for information about Wright, the owner of the estate and the Salford Iron Works who constructed the bridge. We would like to discover who designed it, whether it is unique, as we believe, or if there are others from the same source that survive today.
We've had limited success in our searches so far and are hoping that the extensive research you have obviously done into the history of Mather and Platt may have revealed some of the information we seek. We particularly need to learn more about the Salford Iron Works and its owners around the time of 1813. We believe that Sherratt and Wright, who operated collieries in nearby Poynton, were well acquainted and suspect that Sherratt may have designed the bridge himself. It is done in a similar style to several by the acclaimed bridge designer Telford in the same period but is certainly not credited to him.
We would be pleased to hear from anyone with furtherr information about the Salford Iron Works and Sherratt around the time concerned. We would also be delighted if anyone was able to recommend any other sources of information that we could follow up to learn more about these matters.