In Pictures: Widest load on British roads?

A massive section of a new furnace for an oil refinery crept down the M53 on Saturday night.

A part of a £45m furnace leaves the motorway after travelling along the M53 heading to Essar’s Stanlow refinery
A part of a £45m furnace leaves the motorway after travelling along the M53 heading to Essar’s Stanlow refinery

Part of the M53 in Cheshire was closed on Saturday night to accommodate what is thought to be one of the biggest objects to be moved on a UK road.

At 26.5 metres long and five times higher than a double decker bus, the piece of machinery could only travel at walking pace along three miles of the motorway.

M53 closure
The journey took several hours as the lorries moved at walking pace (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The part arrived by ship from Thailand to the Port of Liverpool in June (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The section of the £45m furnace is almost five times higher than a double decker bus (Danny Lawson/PA)

The structure is part of a £45 million furnace that is being installed at Essar’s Stanlow oil refinery and will be the first capable of running entirely on hydrogen.

It was built 6,000 miles away in Thailand and carried by ship to the Port of Liverpool before being transferred to a barge for the short trip across the River Mersey, through the locks into the Manchester Ship Canal and on to a holding bay near National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.

M53 closure
The furnace part is being installed at Essar’s Stanlow oil refinery (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The machinery dwarfed the lampposts on the motorway (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The load towers over a line of trees as it is moved towards the M53 (Danny Lawson/PA)

Gordon Beattie, National Highways’ abnormal loads manager for the North West, said: “There are abnormal loads and there are abnormal loads – and this one will completely fill the motorway.

“The module will be mounted on two wheeled platforms – one on each carriageway – and will look a bit like the bridge of a container ship gliding down the motorway.”

M53 closure
The operation required precision measuring and monitoring at every stage (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The journey took several hours as the lorries moved at walking pace (Danny Lawson/PA)
M53 closure
The furnace will be capable of running entirely on hydrogen (Danny Lawson/PA)
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