& Railway Viaducts in Manchester
order to get his coal from the mines at Worsley, the third Duke
of Bridgewater, Francis
Egerton, employed the great engineer James Brindley to build
a canal, which was begun in 1759. It was to be the forerunner
of all subsequent canals, and on its completion, it heralded
the beginning of the canal age.
Where the canal terminated, the first wharf was built in Castlefield
in 1765, to be followed soon by other warehouses and wharves,
including The Potato Wharf, to handle the growing canal trade.
There were several major warehouses, including the Merchants
Warehouse completed in 1827, and seriously damaged by fire in
1971. This Grade 2 listed building is now extensively repaired
and refurbished as part of the Castlefield renewal - it was
purchased as a ruin by Jim Ramsbottom's Castlefield Estates
and restored by Ian Simpson Architects, who completed the work
in late 1999.
so-called Middle Warehouse was its contemporary and has recently
undergone considerable restoration; it now serves as high-class
canalside residential dwellings. Amongst the most notable was
the Grocers Warehouse, originally a 5 storey brick building
designed by James Brindley,
and demolished (!) in 1960, but, fortunately, the remains of
the rear wall, the tunnel and the reconstructed freight hoists
can still be seen.
50 years of the opening of the Bridgewater
Canal, Manchester had become the hub of an extensive canal
network, which linked it with all parts of the country, including
the major ports of Liverpool and Hull. In 1804 the new Rochdale
Canal joined up with the Bridgewater Canal at Lock 92, the
bottom of the "Rochdale Flight" in Castlefield. It soon became
known as "Dukes Lock", and remains so-called today, marked by
the Dukes 92 Lock-keepers cottage, now fully restored and occupied
as a private dwelling. Just a few hundred yards along the Bridgewater
Canal from Castlefield, the construction of Hulme Lock joined
the canal system to the River Irwell, (currently only partially
vast waterways network enabled Manchester to receive incoming
raw materials from all over the United Kingdom, and to despatch
and export finished manufactured goods via the same system.
In many ways, it was the canal system which made the largest
single contribution to the early prosperity and growth of the
City of Manchester.. The vast waterways network enabled Manchester
to receive incoming raw materials from all over the United Kingdom,
and to despatch and export finished manufactured goods via the
same system. In many ways, it was the canal system which made
the largest single contribution to the early prosperity and
growth of the City of Manchester.
over the Rochdale "Nine"
Warehouse - now luxury apartments
of the Grocers Warehouse
is as conspicuous by its viaducts as it is by its canals - they
have both become an indelible part of the landscape, valued
and treasured as part of Manchester's industrial heritage. But
it was not always so. Their building was as controversial as
it was destructive. During the late 1800s, at least 4 railway
lines were laid across the Castlefield Basins. As the new Railway
Companies needed to access the city centre through largely built-up
areas, only one option lay open to them - the building of viaducts
to carry traffic over the city.
first such viaduct, the Northern Brick Viaduct, construct of
more than 50 million bricks, was designed by David Bellhouse,
and carried the line from Manchester to Altrincham. It was to
be Manchester's first suburban line and was opened in 1849.
In 1877, the Cheshire Lines Committee opened the Southern Iron
Viaduct. In 1880, coinciding with the opening of Central
Station (latterly the G-MEX Centre, and now "Manchester
Central"), a third viaduct was constructed, decorated with
castle turrets in an attempt to blend the (then) modern with
the ancient character of the site. 1894 saw the building of
the last viaduct at Castlefield, financed and constructed by
the Great Northern Railway Company (the GNR).
of these viaducts passed right through the ancient Roman site,
virtually obliterating it, as the opening of the Rochdale Canal
had already destroyed much of it, as well as the old town of
Aldport. The viaducts are now owned by Railtrack (probably),
who maintain and upkeep them (possibly?). Three are still in
use, and the fourth is offered for sale.
line crossing Castlefield canals
Viaducts in Castlefield
Road Station ranks as one of, if not the most important railway
stations in Britain. Manchester can be said to have been the
place where the Railway Age began. It was the service established
between Liverpool and Manchester which first demonstrated the
feasibility of rail as a viable public transport system. Opened
to the public in 1830, it marked the terminus of the newly created
line which ran from Liverpool to Manchester, and it is now part
of the Museum of Science and Industry. The station building
and the warehouse opposite date from the earliest days of railway
history. It was to this station that the Rainhill Trials to
choose a locomotive to pull passenger coaches between Liverpool
and Manchester arrived. George Stephenson's ubiquitous "Rocket"
being the winner. The rail link, together with the canal system,
was instrumental in the growth of Manchester's industrial base
in the 19th century.
Liverpool Road Railway Station