The Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) opened a railway through Cadishead on 1 March 1873 as part of a route that connected Godley with Glazebrook where it had a junction with the CLC Liverpool and Manchester line. At Cadishead the line passed over the River Mersey by means of a fixed bridge. At first the line was only used by goods trains but by August of 1873 express and local passenger services were using it. Trains passing along the line included London and Liverpool services of both the Midland and the Great Northern Railways.
In 1885 an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the construction of the 'Manchester Ship Canal' a canal of 36 miles in length that was to be capable of taking the largest ocean going ships right into Manchester. To achieve this fixed bridges had to give 75ft of clearance. Many railways crossed the proposed route of the canal and all but one were nowhere near the required height including the CLC line at Cadishead. To solve the problem deviations had to be built at the Manchester Ship Canal Companies expense that would lift the railways to the required elevation.
The CLC built a multi-lattice girder bridge with a 120ft span that was 75 ft above the canal. On either side of the span two archways connected the bridge to the substantial embankment that had been built up to carry the railway to the bridge at the required height. The bridge was built to take four tracks although the Glazebrook East - Skelton Junction line was only double track. In the 1890s the railway was an important main line and the CLC considered that at some point in the future it would be made quadruple. The new bridge was to the south west of the original.
The Cadishead bridge was built during 1892 and opened to freight traffic on 27 February 1893 and to passenger services on 29 May 1893. After 29 May the original line closed as a through route and its bridge over the River Mersey was demolished so that the canal could be dug. The Manchester Ship Canal opened to traffic in January 1894.
At the location where the original line had run coal loading facilities were developed served by the original CLC line on both sides of the canal. Extensive areas of siding developed adjacent to them.
The Glazebrook East Junction - Skelton Junction line remained busy well in to the 20th century but in 1964 it lost its local passenger services and in 1966 main line passenger services ceased to use it. On 17 May 1970 the line between Partington Junction and Glazebrook east Junction was singled. In the early 1980s the bridge required major repairs and British Rail (the then owners) decided that the least expensive option would be to close the line. The line remained in use for goods services until 29 July 1982. On 3 August 1982 the points at Glazebrook East Junction were clipped out of use and formal closure of the line running over Cadishead bridge came on 4 September 1983. The railway was lifted shortly after.
In recent years containers were placed at each end of the bridge blocking access to it as youths had been using it and causing a danger to ships on the canal by throwing objects at them.
See also: Cadishead (2nd) and Partington (2nd) stations