Friday, 13 December 2013

THE MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL

The mighty Widnes-Runcorn Bridge
The "New Bridge" to the locals
I recently went on a trip from Manchester to Liverpool along the Manchester Ship Canal. I had been looking forward to the journey for some time and the trip did not disappoint. There is a little family history connected to the canal.

I was born in a house that looked out on the canal too impatient to wait for either midwife or ambulance. My grandmother had been a child in arms when the canal was opened by Queen Victoria on the 21st May 1894 and had seen her sail past Runcorn in her steam yacht.  So the canal holds some family interest for me.

Collier Street today, as seen from the canal.

What struck me on the six hour journey was the massive scale of the engineering. Everything is monumental, even the two new bridges that swing out of the way. In fact the swing footbridge at Salford keys is a thing of beauty in itself.


The Salford Quays footbridge.

The Barton Swing Aqueduct was an eye opener. It carries the Bridgwater Canal across the ship canal and swings out of the way to enable ships to pass! It is a wonder to see. It is the sort of engineering project that the Victorians delighted in. I was amazed to see a section of the aqueduct effortlessly swing out of the way. 

Barton Road Aqueduct


I was struck by the way in which the canal has changed since my childhood. For one thing it is cleaner now than it ever was. The amount of wildlife is encouraging as well. The number of herons we saw was impressive.

Sailing under the New Bridge
The significance of the Dechlorinater will be apparent to a select few... 
I shall be posting more photographs in the week but for now I shall leave you with a poem.

In a way this poem is the opposite of the Manchester Ship Canal. It speaks of an ending, whereas the Ship Canal endures and there is a quiet pride in its working.

End of the Line

I empty the car of meaning
of all I can use again
load memories into a shopping bag.
Inert beyond repair,
the metal husk awaits
professional gleaning.
This will be all of ours future.

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