We had rain last evening! Actual rain – you know, that wet stuff that comes out of the sky! Well, to be fair it was more like showers, but one was quite heavy. It did relieve the heat a bit.
They do like their bright lights at the Trafford Centre, don’t they. This was at quarter past eleven last night.
We set off, only to pull in at the next bridge for me to nip up to B&Q for some material for a little project I’ve got in mind. That done we only had 5 minutes before crossing the Ship Canal on Barton Swing Aqueduct.
When the Bridgewater Canal was first opened in 1761, the River Irwell was bridged here by a stone aqueduct, itself a wonder of the age. But when the Manchester Ship Canal was proposed, it became clear that the existing aqueduct didn’t have sufficient air draught to allow the size of shipping they were hoping for. The ship canal here follows the river, and the swing aqueduct was built alongside the existing fixed one. It had to be built right, the first time it was opened was when the older one alongside was demolished.
Designed by Edward Leader Williams it opened in 1893 and carries an amazing 800 tons of water sealed into the 18 x 235 foot channel when it is swung to allow passage of large vessels up to Manchester.
It’s smaller brother, the Barton Swing viaduct, sits just to the west and carries the B5211.
Looking up towards the city
After the crossing the canal runs through Patricroft, alongside the road for a short distance. There’s a lot of new residential development going on, this was a demolition site when we last came this way.
The lighthouse still overlooks the canal on the sharp bend in Monton…
There’s a short interlude of greenery after Parrin Lane and into Worsley, but it’s an illusion, the houses are just behind the bushes… There’s more new houses been built on the edge of Worsley, too.
The actual canal centre of the village hasn’t changed, though.
The Worsley Dry Dock is believed to be the oldest on the inland waterways.
Two restored Leeds and Liverpool fly-boats were moored here, the Dee…
…and the Weaver.
The Packet House, with the steps where passengers used to embark for the trip into Manchester.
And the way to the Delph, the entrance to the Duke’s coal mines.
Once again we’re in rust-stained water, caused by water running through iron-ore deposits in the mines.
Under the M60 (again)
The new stop-lock installed a couple of years ago.
Note that there are opposing pairs of gates, designed to be effective if there’s a breach in either direction.
This is now coal country and the canal makes long straight runs across the landscape.
Bridgewater Marina at Boothstown
The Astley Green Colliery ceased production in 1970 and the headgear and associated buildings are preserved as a museum.
Subsidence has also affected the surrounding landscape, like down at Sandbach the canal banks have had to be raised by adding layers of concrete.
We pulled over here for a bite to eat and for Meg to have a wee, then pushed on again.
Approaching Leigh, only two tall mill chimneys left to mark the skyline of this once prosperous mill town.
Silk and cotton were spun in many mills in the town, but only five remain today, and they’ve been converted for other uses. At the turn of the 20th century over 6000 people were employed in the textile industry here.
New developments either side of the canal echo mill architecture
Leigh Bridge, the end of the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal and the start of the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
On the north side of the bridge old canal warehouses have been “repurposed”, now the Waterside Inn
We’re back on CRT waters again now, and there’s something indefinably different. The water looks the same, the canal is still deep and wide…
Ah yes, there’s more floating rubbish!
The Bridgewater Canal Company employs a barge, the Water Womble, to cruise up and down it’s navigation collecting rubbish. Alas, CRT is unable to do the same.
Leaving Leigh it’s only a mile or so to Plank Lane, passing the water park at Pennington Flash on the way.
Lock gate “sculpture”.
On the old Bickersdale Colliery site the marina is filling up and the housing development is nearing completion.
We were going to pull over here for the night, but a boat that had passed us at Astley Green was on the bridge moorings, the crew having a bite to eat while filling with water. Mags hasn’t been herself these last few days, so having no locks to do has been useful. But this would be the first time she needed to man (woman) the tiller, as we had to tackle the lift bridge. Or not…
I went and had a word with the couple on the Canaltime timeshare Striding Edge, and they were quite happy for me to follow as they went through.
The road across is very busy, and the locals seem to be in such a rush to get somewhere. Coupled with the fact that it’s only single file across the bridge this means that there’s always vehicles crossing. You just have to push the button…
Thanks, lovely people.
Another 30 minutes steady cruising saw us arrive at Dover Lock, where we pulled in just before Dover Bridge.
There’s no lock here now, just the pub still carrying the name. The lock was made redundant with the adjusting of the water levels up to Poolstock. The two Poolstock Locks will take us into Wigan tomorrow.
Locks 0, miles 13