Friday, 16 July 2010

In the Beginning
This is where the Industrial Revolution started.
Well, that may be a rather bold claim but this is certainly where Canalmania started.
When the Duke of Bridgewater built a canal from this coalmine in Worsley to Manchester in 1759 it halved the price of coal in that city. If that wasn't an incentive to the subsequent canal builders then the history books have to be rewritten.
There had certainly been canals for many years in many countries but this was the first completely artificial waterway in England. Coal was loaded onto boats inside the mine and taken directly into the centre of Manchester with no locks to slow the journey.

To cross the River Irwell a stone aqueduct was built at Barton.

When the Manchester Ship Canal was constructed a century later this was replaced with a no less striking structure - a swing aqueduct.

This, of course, is the adjacent road bridge seen from the aqueduct and showing the control tower.

Worsley today is a sought-after suburb which is proud of its history. The story boards which are placed at appropriate sites around the village paint a picture of a busy and noisy industrial site with all the support services required by a mining and boat-building community. We are asked to imagine how noisy it would have been. This does not require so much imagination as the village is blighted by the M60 motorway and feeder roads which fly over the village. The noise was said to be so great in the 18th centrury that local workers were often late back to work after lunch as they could not hear the town clock strike one. A remedy was soon found - the clock was made to strike 13.

It is still possible to discern where rail tracks used to run across what is now the village green.

For more about the Duke of Bridgewater go tho the archive>> >>> and read the blog entry for 25 May 2009 - Chiltern Ramblers

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