Constructed by a Monsieur Leroyer, a local architect, who had a sixty year operating concession commencing 10th February 1874, the rolling bridge shown on this card from E. Le Deley of 73 Rue Claude-Bernard in Paris, spanned the entrance to the French port of St. Malo and connected the town of St. Malo with St. Servan. At low tide the crossing may be made on foot by a causeway, but at high tide there is a channel for navigation. The system was proposed in 1872 and the decree allowing for its construction within a year was passed on 10th June 1873, the first run being on 26th October 1873.
The vehicle ran on tracks of about 5 m. gauge set in the bed of the navigation channel. It had a height of 13 m. to allow direct landing at the quays. The base was formed by a cast iron frame weighing 30 tonnes. From the base rose four strong legs, crossbraced by rods linked with screw tensioners and supporting a platform which was 7 m. square and surrounded by a metal guard rail. In the centre of the platform was a glazed cabin for passengers paying a supplement.
The vehicle was worked by cables from a steam engine housed at the St. Servan end. The service ran every 5 minutes from 7am to 7pm carrying around 2,000 passengers per day. On Leroyer's death a new concessionaire took over and replaced the steam engine by electric motors.
The installation was at one time damaged by a fire and was rebuilt, but the car was later in a serious collision with a Norwegian steam ship. However, it was really the sale value of the quayside landing sites that finally brought about the decision to close the bridge, the last run being on 8th November 1923.
The small view of the bridge at low tide is from a card by Collection Germain Fils ainé, of St. Malo.
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