Monday, May 21, 2012


We’ve had a quiet few days in Castlefield Basin, visitors in the form of Mags’ son George, and sister Dot with her son Paul on Saturday, and the Great Manchester 10k run yesterday.
Haile Gebrselassie led from the start, leaving a strong field behind and winning his 5th GMR in his second fastest time.

The great man himself.SAM_0249
At 39 he’s thinking of retiring, but with the form he’s in I wouldn’t be surprised if he earns a place in the Ethiopian team for the Olympics. In his time he’s won pretty well every middle and long distance title going.
I trailed in a considerable distance behind….

Apart from the running and the entertaining Meg and I have had a good mooch around the area that at one time was the eastern end of the extensive Manchester Docks complex. The western end has been redeveloped as the Salford Quays, but Pomona Docks have yet to feel the effect of the architect's pencil and developer’s cranes.

The story of Manchester Docks starts with the building of the Manchester Ship Canal, opened in 1894. But even before that there was a navigation running from the coast to the city, the Mersey and Irwell Navigation. The M&IN followed the course of the rivers, with short cuts around shoals and 8 weirs and locks to climb up to the city. This opened in 1734, but by the middle of the 19c, after steady improvement, it began to decline, being almost un-navigable by 1882.
The Ship Canal was the answer to Manchester’s financial doldrums, being able to take vessels of 12,000 tons and 530 feet in length all the way to the edge of the city. The first vessel to unload at the new Port of Manchester was the Co-op Wholesale Society’s MV Pioneer on 1st January 1894, with a load of sugar. It followed a fair bit of the course of the M&IN, but, as a wholly artificial canal did not have the issues that the mainly river, earlier navigation suffered from.
One early problem that the fledgling port had to deal with was the protectionist policies of the Port of Liverpool. Afraid of the competition of a rival port on their doorstep, they’d locked in clients with unbreakable contracts, and offered substantially reduced deals to undercut any trade that Manchester tendered for. The solution was to build their own steamship fleet, and to develop overseas markets that had so far been untapped.
The Manchester Liners company came into being, initially with a fortnightly transatlantic service to North America and Canada, but which expanded, concentrating on Canada and the Great Lakes area, operating vessels that could navigate the canals between the lakes to Toronto and even Detroit.
In the 1960’s ML were the first British shipping line to build and operate a dedicated container ship, the Manchester Challenge. Along with new dock facilities this gave the Port a new lease of life, but it was short-lived. As containerisation became more common, bigger vessels were built and the 12,000 ton limit on the Ship Canal became a liability. The ML’s own ships could not compete with the lower unit costs of the larger ships and by 1980 pretty well all traffic to the Port had ceased. The remaining 4 Manchester Liners ships were operating out of Ellesmere Port.
The dwindling fleet was bought by a Hong Kong company in 1985.

Salford Docks was (and still is being) developed as an Enterprise Zone after all the dock structures were demolished.

Looking towards Salford Quays along the Ship CanalSAM_0216 Salford Quays from footbridge
The Pomona Docks area has been cleared but the only work so far has been a paved and lit promenade along the waterfront.

Canal promenadeSAM_0217 Promenade
Unfortunately the “scroats” have been around, steel rails have been stripped out of the fencing and the copper cabling ripped out of the lighting. The slabs are now being displaced by tree roots.

Looking across the wastelandSAM_0221 Pomona wasteland

Pomona No1 DockSAM_0218 Pomona No 1

No3 Dock has the “new” Pomona Lock at the far end.SAM_0224 Pomona Locks
This replaced the earlier Hulme Locks nearer the city and gives access to the Bridgewater Canal.

Pomona Lock from the BridgewaterSAM_0265 Pomona Lock

Derelict Hulme Top Lock….
SAM_0264 Hulme Lock
And Bottom LockSAM_0209 Hulme Locks

We left Castlefield this morning after watering up, heading south now through Sale and Stretford out into leafy Cheshire. The Castlefield area gets it’s name from the site of a Roman Fort first built in the first century AD called Mamucium. As a reference to the area the railway bridges have mock turrets in iron or stone.

Tribute to the Romans?SAM 262 Castles on railways
SAM_0261 Castles on railways
There’s a reproduction Roman gate not far from the canal.

We had a gentle cruise down the Bridgewater, turning left at Waters Meeting into Stretford.
Stretford Marina seems to be fully open now after a period of dormancy, the pontoons are all full and the shop is open for solid fuel and gas.

Stretford Marina.SAM_0271 Stretford Marina
A well-stocked chandlery would be useful here….

Ducks Geese in a row….SAM_0270 Geese in a row

Between Stretford and Sale the River Mersey is crossed on an aqueduct before the canal ducks under the M60.

River Mersey at SaleSAM_0273 R Mersey

There’s a long 2 mile straight through Sale, before the canal finally emerges from the urban to the rural.

Sale StraightSAM_0280 Sale Straight

The King’s Ransom with floating outdoor seating at Sale BridgeSAM_0279 Kings Ransom

The last outpost of the built up area is left behind at Seamon’s Moss Bridge, and just beyond there was a familiar sight….

It’s that burnt out narrowboat last seen at Marple BW yard.SAM_0286 That wreck again
How on earth did it get here?

We often moor near Dunham Massey, but today we decided to press on to the mooring near The Olde No3 pub. It’s alongside a layby on the Warrington Road and Mr Tesco is due to deliver first thing in the morning.
Just past the Bolling Aqueduct we got a shout from the bank, it was Joan and Bob, NB Caroline, met on the Weaver last year. I didn’t recognise the boat as they’re doing a repaint. They lost they’re old dog Sally last autumn, and Joan walked down to us for a brew and to introduce the new crewmate, Toby. He’s a Yorkshire Terrier/Shitzu cross, and is charming!

Joan and TobySAM_0298

We’ll be moving on tomorrow after putting away several tons of shopping. At least there should be, the amount it’s cost!

Locks 0, miles 11

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