The Canal Basin

In 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.

Castlefield - the Rochdale CanalDukes Lock 92, CastlefieldCastlefield Basin - Grocers WarehouseCastlefield Basin, Manchester - Middle Warehouse
Road Bridge
over the Rochdale “Nine; Dukes Lock 92; The remains of the
Grocers Warehouse; The Middle Warehouse – now luxury apartments

 

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.
The 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.
Within 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 navigable).
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.. 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.

 

 

 

The Railway Viaducts

Castlefield 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.

Castlefield Railway Viaducts, ManchesterCastlefiled Canals and Viaducts
The Manchester-Liverpool railway line crossing Castlefield Canals

 

The 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 reverted to “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).
Three 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.

 

Liverpool Road
Station

Liverpool 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.

Liverpool Road Station, Castlefield, Manchester

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.