Manchester Transport




Canals & Inland Waterways around Greater
Manchester and North-West England

Trent & Mersey Canal

The Trent & Mersey
Canal was completed in 1777, one of the earliest inland waterways to
be navigable in Great Britain. Its prime motivators were the pottery
industries of the northern midlands, centred on Stoke-on-Trent. Then,
most of their clay from Cornwall and flint from Sussex had to be shipped
to Liverpool by boat, and then transported by horse-drawn wagons to
the Potteries, making it expensive and time-consuming.

Trent & Mersey Canal - Harecastle TunnelTrent & Mersey Canal Traditional NarrowboatsHarecastle Tunnel  Trent & Mersey CanalAnderton Lift , Preston BrookTrent & Mersey Canal

The decision
was made to link the navigable River Trent to the River Mersey to overcome
this difficulty, and the great engineer, James Brindley was commissioned
to oversee the survey, the design and the construction.
It was to
run from Preston Brook in the north, to Shardlow in the south, some
92 miles, intersecting at Fazeley (Birmingham) with the so-called “Grand
Cross” of waterways linking the north-south and east-west estuaries
of the Humber, the Mersey, the Thames and the Severn.
Seven miles
from Preston Brook, at the village of Anderton, stands the Anderton
Lift, an ingenious device by Thomas Telford, to lower boats from the
Trent & Mersey Canal above down into the River Weaver below.
It stood derelict
for nearly 2 decades. However, recent restoration work has restored
it as a working lift – after many years of campaigning by waterways
pressure groups it is now once again fully operational.
The canal
also passes through Middlewich, one of the three “wiches” of Cheshire
(Northwich and Nantwich being the other two) – ( “wich” is old
English for “salt”), and was to be instrumental in improving the business
fortunes of the county’s salt mine owners.
Cheshire salt
was still transported by canal until the early 1960s.
Locks are
abundant on the canal, particularly the long haul up from Middlewich
to Hardings Wood Junction, some 30-odd locks raising the canal nearly
300 feet, known by the 19th century navigators as “Heartbreak Hill”.
In the 1830s, duplicate
locks were installed over much of this flight, to speed up traffic –
many survive today.
there is ample respite half way up the hill at Hassal Green where there
is a lockside restaurant, good overnight moorings and the newly refurbished
“Romping Donkey” pub.
At Hardings
Wood Junction the water turns a dramatic deep orange-red colour due
to the iron oxide leeching into the water inside Harecastle Tunnel.
Also, at this junction a branch
off to the right marks the beginning of the Macclesfield

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© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 20 Nov 11.