Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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Waterways of Greater Manchester

Navigable Rivers and Canals within Greater Manchester

Castlefield Junction on the Bridgewater Canal.

Ashton Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The whole canal is within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Runs from the junction with the Rochdale Canal at Manchester to the Junction with the Peak Forest Canal at Ashton-Under-Lyne.

History:

Promoted under Acts of 1792, 1793, 1798, 1800 and 1805. Completed, except for the Ancoats to Piccadilly section, about 1796. Main line completed in 1799. Excluded from British Waterways cruising licence in 1959.

Points of Interest:

It was the subject of "Operation Ashton", one of the largest voluntary clearance operations. The canal is now completely restored. It forms part of the Cheshire Ring.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A collection of canals in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Derbyshire.

Waterway Description:

These three canals have been, for many years, considered as one navigation. In the Great Central Railway days it was known as the "A.P.M.". They are now part of the Cheshire Ring.

History:

See Individual canals for more details. In 1961 the last passage was made through the Ashton and Lower Peak Forrest Canals prior to their restoration in 1974.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bridgewater Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From Castlefield Junction in Manchester, where it connects with the Rochdale Canal, to the River Bollin Aqueduct, where it enters Cheshire, the Bridgewater Canal runs over 10 miles through Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Runs from the junction with the Rochdale Canal in Manchester to Runcorn. The Stretford and Leigh Branch runs ten and three-quarter miles to the junction with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

History:

Authorised under Acts of 1737, 1759, 1760, 1762, 1766 and 1795. The "first canal of the canal age" was promoted by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, and built under the direction of John Gilbert. James Bindley worked under Gilbert's direction

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Douglas Navigation

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A navigation from Lancashire to Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Was a 17.5 mile river navigation with 13 locks from the Ribble up to Wigan.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1720 but not opened until around 1742. All of the traffic was lost to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal by 1801.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Fletcher's Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

This canal was entirely within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

A 1.5 mile canal connecting the Wet Earth Colliery at Clifton, near Salford, with the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal.

History:

About 1790 or 1791 Matthew Fletcher widened some earlier water channels used to for water power into a navigation. Completely closed by 1952.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Haslingden Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A proposal for a canal from Greater Manchester to Lancashire.

Waterway Description:

A proposed tub-boat canal with inclined planes but never built

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1794 to join the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, at Bury, to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, at Church near Accrington.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From the middle of Standedge Tunnel, where the canal leaves Yorkshire, to its end at its junction with Ashton Canal the canal is in Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Restored to full navigation in 2001, this 20 mile navigation crosses the Pennines from Huddersfield, where it joins the Huddersfield Broad Canal, to Ashton-Under-Lyne, where it joins the Ashton Canal.

History:

Promoted by an Act of 1794 and opened in 1811. Closed in 1944 by the LMS Railway Act.

Points of Interest:

Contains the longest (5698 yards) and highest (645 feet) tunnel (Standedge) in Britain. Special arrangements apply to navigation of the tunnel. Contact British Waterways for details well in advance.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Hulme Lock Branch (Bridgewater Canal)

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The whole of this branch is in Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

From junction with Bridgewater Canal Main Line to the River Irwell. This has now been replaced by the new Pomona Lock opened on 26 May 1995.

History:

Built under the Bridgewater Canal Act of 1762 but completed in 1838.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Leeds & Liverpool - Leigh Branch

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The whole branch from Wigan Junction, connecting to the Leeds and Liverpool main line, to Leigh Bridge, where it meets the Bridgewater Canal Stretford and Leigh Branch, is within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Runs 7 miles, from the junction with the Leeds & Liverpool Canal main line at Wigan, to Leigh, where it joins the Stretford and Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From just past Red House Bridge No 68 near Adlington, where the canal passes from Lancashire into Greater Manchester, to just before Appley Bridge No 42, where it returns into Lancashire, the canal travels 10 miles through Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

A 127 mile, cross-Pennine route, from Leeds River Lock, where it joins the Aire and Calder Navigation, to Liverpool.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1720, 1770, 1783, 1790, 1794 and 1819. Over fifty miles of waterway open by early 1774. The Bingley Five Rise Locks were opened on the 21st March 1774. Five laden boats descended the locks watched by thousands of people. Burnley Embankment (designed by Robert Whitworth, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company Engineer) started in 1795. Gannow tunnel was completed in early 1801. The whole canal was fully opened in 1816.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Liverpool Canal project

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

Proposals for an alternative canal route from Manchester into Lancashire.

Waterway Description:

Various routes were proposed for a canal from Manchester to Liverpool as an alternative for the Leeds & Liverpool route but none were authorised or built.

History:

In 1765 it was first suggested that the Bridgewater Canal could be extended to Liverpool. A route was published in 1771 and an unsuccessful Bill was introduced in 1772. Revived again in 1792 and 1825.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Macclesfield Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From the start of the canal at Marple Junction, where it connects to the Peak Forrest Canal, to a point between the Aqueduct over railway and Bullock's Girder Bridge No 13, where it crosses into Cheshire, the canal is in Greater Manchester for over two miles.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Marple Junction with the Peak Forrest Canal to Hall Green, on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

History:

Promoted by an Act of 1826. Opened in 1831.

Points of Interest:

It runs on a high contour, the summit at 521 feet, and has fine views.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester & Dee Ship Canal project

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A proposal for a ship canal from Greater Manchester into Cheshire.

Waterway Description:

A proposal for a ship canal from the Dee estuary to Manchester.

History:

Surveyed in 1823 and 1824, a Bill was introduced and rejected in 1825. Variations to the plans were made in 1825, 1826, 1828 and 1837 but the canal was never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester & Salford Junction Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A canal that was entirely within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Was a 5 furlong canal, with 4 locks and a 499 yard tunnel, linking the Rochdale Canal to the River Irwell.

History:

Opened in 1839 abandoned in 1922.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester Ship Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From Rixton Junction, where the canal crosses out of Cheshire, to its terminus at Woden Street Bridge in Manchester the canal runs 12 miles through Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Eastham Locks (some 6 miles up the Mersey from Liverpool) to Woden Street Bridge, Manchester.

History:

Promoted by the Manchester Ship Canal Act of 1885. Construction started in November 1887 and the canal was opened on 1 January 1894.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester Ship Canal - River Irwell Upper Reach

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The whole of this waterway is within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

This one and a quarter mile branch runs from the Woden Street Footbridge, where it joins the main Manchester Ship Canal, to Hunts Bank.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester Ship Canal - Walton Lock Branch

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The whole of this branch is within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Runs less than half a mile from the Junction with the Manchester Ship Canal to the Mersey and Irwell Navigation.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

This canal is entirely within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

This broad canal ran from the River Irwell in Manchester 11 miles, 17 locks, to Bolton with a 4.75 mile level branch to Bury.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1791, completed in 1796, abandoned in 1961.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Mersey & Irwell Navigation

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A waterway that ran from Cheshire to Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

Was a 20.25 mile, 8 locks, river navigation from Bank Quay, Warrington, to Quay Street, Manchester.

History:

Authorised by an Act of June 1721, work started in 1724, opened in 1736. By 1894 most of the navigation had been replaced by the Manchester Ship Canal.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Peak Forest Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

The canal is in Greater Manchester from the start of the canal at Dukinfield Junction, where it joins the Ashton Canal, to just past Turflea Lift Bridge No 22 at Strines Aqueduct, where it crosses into Cheshire.

Waterway Description:

Runs from the junction with the Ashton Canal at Dukinfield to Buxworth Basin.

History:

Promoted under Acts of 1794, 1800 and 1805. Opened with a connecting tramroad at Marple in 1800. Marple Locks were opened in 1804.

Points of Interest:

Very fine stone navigation works.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Rochdale Canal

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From Warland Upper Lock No 35, where the canal leaves Yorkshire to Dukes Lock No 92 in Manchester, where the canal ends and joins the Bridgewater Canal, is a distance of 19 miles within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

In Manchester just over a mile is navigable at present, forming part of the Cheshire Ring. At Sowerby Bridge Tuel Lane Lock, opened in 1996, gave access to the Yorkshire end of the Canal and in 2002 the whole canal was re-opened.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1794, 1800, 1804, 1806 and 1807. Opened in 1804. Closed to navigation in 1952.This 32 mile canal runs from Soweby Bridge, where it joins the Calder and Hebble Navigation, to Duke's Lock, Manchester, where it joins the Bridgewater Canal.

Points of Interest:

The new Tuel Lane lock, replacing two previous lock, is now the deepest canal lock in the the UK.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Salford - Wigan Canal project

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A proposed Greater Manchester canal.

Waterway Description:

A proposed canal running from Salford past Eccles, Worsley and Leigh to within half a mile of Wigan.

History:

Was surveyed in 1753, a Bill went before parliament in 1754 but was defeated by the opposition of landowners and others.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Stretford and Leigh Branch (Bridgewater Canal)

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

From the start of the branch at Stretford, Waters Meeting, where in connects with the Bridgewater Canal Main Line junction to Leigh, where it meets the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the whole branch is within Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

An important link to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and of historic significance as it passes through Worsley, where the canal age was born, and passes over Barton Swing Aqueduct.

History:

Built under the Bridgewater Canal Act of 1760 but completed in 1761.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Worsley Brook Navigation project

Waterway's place in Greater Manchester :

A proposed navigation in Greater Manchester.

Waterway Description:

A proposal to make Worsley Brook navigable for 2 miles from the Irwell up a forty foot rise to Worsley.

History:

The enabling Act was passed in 1737 but no further action was taken.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

External Web Sites Related to Greater Manchester Waterways

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Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
Features Contact me Glossary Boats Events List History Local Waterways Help Photo List