Manchester Transport




Greater Manchester Canals

The Macclesfield Canal

The Macclesfield Canal is in many ways the entrance
to the Pennine Hills and the Peak District. Approaching from the Trent
& Mersey Canal, as most do, it marks the beginning of hill country,
and is thought by many to be the most beautiful of Englands inland waterway
navigations. A shallow canal, engineered by the great Thomas Telford,
it runs for 27 miles to join the Peak
Forest Canal
at Marple Junction.
It was surveyed by Thomas Telford and engineered by Crosley. The canal
was opened in 1831, by which time the railways had begun to impact upon
transport systems, and the Macclesfield Canal Company was to remain
in business for only 15 years, before being acquired by the Great Central
Railway Company.

Narrowboat at Bollington WharfMacclesfield Canal, Hall Green Stop LockBosley Locks on the Macclesfield Canal
Narrowboat moored at Bollington, Hall Green
Stop Lock and a stone chamber on Bosley Locks

The canal is the highest point on the British Inland
Waterway system, and therefore prone to extreme shallowness in dry weather,
and frequent early closing of locks is common in summertime. It is beautifully
maintained, with its 12 locks being grouped in one single flight at
Bosley, in typical Telford style. The great stone chambers of the locks
are unusual in that they have double gates at both ends of the lock
– the stone was quarried locally at the Cloud, a hill which dominates
the locks.
The southern reaches are overshadowed by Mow Cop, which marks the Staffordshire-Cheshire
Border, and is topped by the ruins of a castellated ruin, known as Wilbraham’s
folly. On either side lie the lush green farmlands of Cheshire.
Two great houses border the canal – Little
Moreton Hall
, a half-timbered Tudor manor house reckoned to be the
most complete in Britain, (about 1 mile off the towpath), and Ramsdell
Hall built in 1760, with garden lawns sweeping down to the edge of the
water. As it moves northwards, the canal passes through Congleton and
on up to Macclesfield. It was Macclesfield’s silk industry which played
a major factor in the building of the “Macc” (as locals call it).

Macclesfield canal as it passes through Macclesfield
Macclesfield – showing the undulating Macclesfiled
Canal. Aerial Photograph Courtesy of © 2005

The canal runs high above the town of Macclesfield,
and arrival is only signalled by the Macclesfield Marina overlooked
by the Publicity Works Mill (the old Hovis Flour Mill), now cleaned
up and converted to luxury apartments. Macclesfield has several attractions
worth stopping for.
Apart from a major shopping centre, there is the Paradise
Silk Mill
, in Park Lane, a working exhibition of silk spinning and
weaving in Macclesfield since the 18th century. It remained in business
until 1981, and boasts 26 original Jacquard Looms, fully restored and
in working order.

The Adelphi Mill, Bollington, Macclesfield Canal
The Adelphi Mill, Bollington, Macclesfield

Also worth seeing is the Silk
at the Heritage Centre in Roe Street. This exhibition shows
the development and uses of Macclsfield silk, “from knickers to parachutes”,
as well as housing an exhibition on the development of the Sunday School
After shaking off the town through its tree fenced industrial estate,
Cheshire comes into its own, with dairy cattle grazing green fields,
clean dry stone walls, and frequently quite beautiful stone bridges,
also quarried from the Cloud. At Kerridge, just before Bollington, another
hill dominates the landscape, this time the White Nancy, topped by a
peculiar white monument, erected to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.
Bollington boasts two other great Silk Mills at the canalside – the
Adelphi Mill and the Clarence Mill, the latter now converted into light
commercial and industrial units. At this point the towpath is part of
the Middlewood Way, a long distance footpath up to Marple, and it is
popular with walkers and cyclists alike.
Bollington is a pretty, well-to-do village with a charm and stye typical
of old mill towns. As you reach the northern limit of the Macc, another
great mill dominates the canal at Marple, the Goyt Mill by Bridge 3,
one of the most impressive mills on the Cheshire Ring. This red brick
building originally spun cotton before transporting it down the Ashton
flight into Manchester and thence to the rest of the world.
M odern trade economics forced this mill, like all the others on the
Macc, to cease trading in the 1960s, yet it has, like the others, rediscovered
new uses for its old structure, and new shops, a climbing centre, snooker
hall, signwriters, a cafe and Peak Gas, have found new residence within
its splendour. Arrival at Marple is somewhat of a canal climax.
The Marple basin is a beautifully preserved and photogenic piece of
industrial heritage, still housing the British Waterways Office and
the original tally office beside the Top Lock – it is well maintained
and a mecca for “gongoozlers” (canal boat watchers). It is a popular
place for overnight mooring, prior to travelling to Whaley Bridge, or
down the Marple flight to Portland Basin.

See also:

Inland Waterways Association – Manchester Canals

<< Back to Canals
Menu/Cheshire Ring

While every care has been taken in the compilation
of these listings to ensure their accuracy, the authors cannot guarantee
that information has not changed since publication, nor can Papillon
Graphics be held responsible for errors contained herein. Please contact
the Webmaster to report any out-of-date
information, or to suggest any new data that may be relevant for consideration
for inclusion in appropriate listings.

Google Search

Custom Search

Animated Papillon Graphics Butterfly Logo
Papillon Graphics


© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 18 Nov 11.