The Bridgewater Canal from Preston Brook Cheshire to Manchester
Researched and written by Jeannette Briggs
The Bridgewater Canal was the forerunner of all man-made canals in that it was the first canal that was dug out on an entirely new course, (i.e. not following an existing river or water course), and it was constructed in the late 18th century. The Duke of Bridgewater financed the whole enterprise, as he foresaw the benefits that he would gain from having a transport system that would enable him to move huge tonnages of coal from his coal mines at Worsley up to Manchester. The Duke engaged James Brindley to engineer his canal, and he designed the route for canal boats to follow contours and to be lock-free. The only complication to his route was the need to devise a method by which his canal could "cross" the valley of the River Irwell - and for this Brindley designed a stone aqueduct, one of the first on the whole canal system. The canal was very successful, and the Duke made lots of money.
Above: The Bridgewater Canal at Lymm Cheshire - photo by Peter Ward and reproduced by kind permission
If you choose to travel south at this point you will almost immediately have to negotiate the Preston Brook tunnel, which is 1,300 yards long. There are boatyards here like Preston Brook Marina with canal boat hire possibilities and pubs like The Red Lion. From this point, the Bridgewater canal makes a huge turn to the north-east, and now passes through some relatively rural countryside, although you are never far from the sights of industry and the sounds of the motorway traffic and trains on the many railways close to the route of the canal.
Beyond Stockton Heath is the village of Grappenhall with stocks on the village green, next to the old Church and the village pub, The Parr Arms. This is only a short walk from the canal.
Lymm is hilly, and the streets come right down to the canal which travels through the centre of the town. Lymm has some quaint old pubs, like The Golden Fleece and the town welcomes those with a canal boat, with temporary moorings and necessary supplies. Canal boat hire is available from Middlewich allowing a canal boat holiday journey to Lymm and back, within a few days.
Above: The canal from the bridge at Agden just beyond Lymm - photo by Dave Smethurst and reproduced by kind permission
From this point you can choose to turn left up the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater canal and then on to the Leeds and Liverpool canal (see separate article) up over the Pennines. Or you can turn right and enter the Ashton Canal, which passes through central Manchester and Ashton Under Lyme, and other densely packed suburbs of manchester. This canal eventually connects with the Peak Forest Canal at Dukinfield Junction. (See separate sections.)
© 1999 - 2022 Canal Guide