It was a pleasure to cruise this canal in bright sunshine today. Most of my memories of Bridgewater Canal cruising involve a considerable amount of rain….
There’s a narrow strip of undeveloped land either side of the Mersey aqueduct, separating Sale from Stretford. Watch House Cruising Club has it’s HQ here.
Through Stretford and Waters Meeting is reached, in the shadow of the Kellogg’s factory.
We turned left here, onto the original main line of the canal which carried the Duke’s coal from Worsley to Manchester. An hour away to the right is Castlefields and the junction with the Rochdale Canal. This section was opened in 1765, followed by the link back to the Trent and Mersey at Preston Brook in 1776, and the final connection to the Leeds and Liverpool at Leigh was authorised in 1795. The Duke of Bridgewater’s coal could then be shipped to markets in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and south into Cheshire.
The mines finally stretched for 46 miles under the ridge separating Walkden and Swinton, serviced by a network of underground canals which saw daylight at Worsley Delph.
Before we got to Worsley, though, we crossed the Manchester Ship Canal on the impressive Barton Swing Aqueduct.
When operated the ends are closed by gates and the structure, complete with 800 tons of water, rotates about it’s centre on an island in the middle of the Ship Canal.
The brick tower between the bridges contains the controls. The last time we came this way we saw the structures swung to allow two vessels to pass below, but the Ship Canal was empty today.
Near Eccles (famous as the home of the pastry cakes) the canal swings left to head eastwards, and there’s an interesting “folly” at Monton near Parrin Lane Bridge.
The canal follows another long straight to the interesting village of Worsley.
The boathouse, built to house the “Royal Barge”, specially constructed for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1851.
In 1843 the 2½ hour trip cost 3d for a seat in the Best Cabin. That’s just over 1p for those who don’t remember £sd.
The ochre colour of the water is due to dissolved iron oxide leaching out of the mine workings. A similar effect can be seen north of Harecastle Tunnel on the T&M.
We pulled over about 1½ miles past the village, in a quiet spot on the offside. We’ve stopped here before.
Locks 0, miles 13