CHESHIRE-L ArchivesArchiver > CHESHIRE > 2008-09 > 1220795665
From: Carl Rogerson <>
Subject: Re: [CHS] Travelling by Canal - the feedback
Date: Sun, 07 Sep 2008 14:55:38 +0100
Richard Andrews wrote:
> The Bridgewater canal has no locks (I know that from reading all the
> websites !), and I am working on 4 miles an hour walking pace.
The Bridgewater Canal may now have no locks, but it is no-longer
complete. Originally it had a flight of locks at Runcorn. These took the
canal down to sea level, a descent of about 80 feet.
Barges went down the locks to Runcorn Docks where some cargo was
transshipped onto small seagoing vessels. However, after the
introduction of steam tugs in 1824, many of the barges were towed from
there down the Mersey estuary to Liverpool where their cargo was
transshipped onto larger seagoing vessels, or used in that city. A steam
tug usually made a return trip, Liverpool - Runcorn - Liverpool, in one
tide, towing a long train of canal barges up on the flow, and a similar
train down on the ebb.
In the 1780s the Bridgewater canal's passenger boat service from the top
lock at Runcorn to Knot Mill Wharf in Manchester took 8 hours, with
passenger stops at Preston Brook, Stockton Heath, Lymm and Altrincham.
The fare was 3 shillings first class, and 2 shillings second class. The
passenger boat had priority over ordinary barges, but I would speculate
that an ordinary barge would do the journey in a day, bearing in mind
the long working hours of the period, and perhaps two days for the
overall Liverpool - Manchester journey.
In another posting Alan wrote that:
> It still wasn't a straight forward run due to bridges and viaducts
> specially the swinging viaduct at Barton which could cause some
The Runcorn - Manchester journey did not go via Barton, however coal
carried on the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal usually came from the Duke's
mines in Worsley, six mines north-east of Manchester, so did travel via
The swing aqueduct at Barton is a marvel of old industrial engineering.
The Bridgewater Canal passes over the Manchester Ship Canal. A section
of the Bridgewater swings aside to allow ocean going vessels to pass
along the Ship Canal. Ingenious seals prevent the various sections of
the Bridgewater from emptying into the Ship Canal. The swing aqueduct
was built during construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1893 so
could not have caused delays earlier than that, however even now it can
still cause delays....
The Mersey Ferry Company runs an occasional passenger service between
Liverpool and Manchester via the Mersey Estuary and the Manchester Ship
Canal. Their ships travel up to Manchester most Saturdays, and back down
to Liverpool the following day. Day-trippers are returned to their
starting point by coach. It is a marvellous day out. According to taste
it can be a relaxing cruise; an exploration of the extensive industrial
archaeology lining the ship canal banks; or an interesting insight into
the waterway that for most of its length forms the county boundary
between Cheshire and Lancashire. I thoroughly recommend the trip.
I last did it in 2005 and was fascinated to see the massive locks
working, and the succession of large bridges swing open, blocking for a
while road and rail routes to allow our stately progress down the ship
All went smoothly until our ship reached the swing aqueduct at Barton.
It didn't open. Part of the mechanism had jammed. Our captain narrowly
avoided a collision and, after some nimble manoeuvring moored alongside
the base of the bridge. As one would expect with a crew of Liverpudlians
who are never short of a word or three, some choice comments were made
about the situation, and were exchanged with the crews of barges that
continued to use the Bridgewater canal just above our eye level.
For a couple of hours we had a close view of engineers clambering
beneath the aqueduct working on its 110 year old mechanism, then the
aqueduct swung aside and we with a cheer we continued on our way.
For information about the Ship Canal cruises see:
Some of the information about barge travel was taken from "Schooner
Port" by H F Starkey, 1983, ISBN 09521020 5 6, a history of the port of
|Re: [CHS] Travelling by Canal - the feedback by Carl Rogerson <>|