Thursday, 16 August 2012

Manchester Revisited

When we visited Manchester two months ago it would be fair to say that we were not impressed.  However we had risen that morning at 4.30 am to tackle the Ashton Locks and it was raining.  So it was only fair to give the city a second chance to impress us and our impressions of the city have undoubtedly improved.  We are presently moored at the bottom rather than the top of the Rochdale Nine – the flight of locks through the centre of the city.  Here there is a lovely canal basin at Castlefield with lots of other basins to investigate and within a few minutes walk of the Museum of Science and Industry and the tram and railway stations.  The basin is also surrounded by waterside pubs and restaurants.  And it hasn’t rained today either.

In getting here we came through Leigh, a town that still has many old mills.  Leigh marks the boundary between the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Bridgewater Canal.
Mill at Leigh

Stop Plank Crane - a characteristic of the Bridgewater Canal

We also visited the Colliery Museum at Astley Green which we would recommend to anyone who likes big old machines.
Astley Pit Head - Engine House to left

Double Steam Engine to lift cage of mine

This is the cable that lifted the cage - difficult to lift just this section

Lovingly restored Steam Engine

Worsley has a canal branch which once went through tunnels direct into the coal mines where there are 40-50 miles of underground canal tunnels.
Worsley Delph - entrance to mines

Curious Lighthouse at Worsley

On the outskirts of the city we came over one of the wonders of the canal age – the Barton Swing Aqueduct.  Here the Bridgewater Canal crosses the Manchester Ship Canal.  Nothing unusual there except that the aqueduct itself swings open to allow ships to pass underneath.  You can just make out the mechanism that closes the canal trough to allow this to be swung without loss of water.  Quite amazing.  We wished we’d seen it in action.
Barton Swing Aqueduct

View from Barton Aqueduct of road swing bridge
At Water’s Meet we turned left into the city passing Pomona Lock which allows boats to pass down into the Ship Canal.  
Pomona Lock
And so to Castlefield Basin:
Castlefield Basin from Grocers' Warehouse - Leo with red roof

Having a drink by the water

Today we left Leo in the basin and took the tram to Salford Quays to visit the Lowry summer exhibition and buy odd things at the Outlet Mall.
Salford Quays
And finally for those cyclists I left behind in Woking here is a picture of a rather large bicycle:
Huge Bicycle
In the next few days we will be following the Bridgewater Canal South-westward to Runcorn and Preston Brook where we will again join the Trent and Mersey Canal.  We are planning to drop down to the River Weaver by means of the Anderton Boat Lift for a few days on our way South.


  1. Hi Ian and Helen, we obviously just missed meeting you in Castlefields as we passed you this morning.
    Have a good journey south, we may catch you up as we are heading for the Shroppie. James and Doug

  2. One day I guess we'll meet. We're on the Runcorn Branch of the Bridgewater tonight and aiming to have a few days on the Weaver via the Anderton Lift on our way back South. We might use the Shroppie to take in Chester but we've not yet decided on that one. Have fun whatever.


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