Middlewich, of which I have written before, has a busy canal junction where the Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals meet.
Or do they?
Whilst waiting for the SU lock to be prepared for your ascent from the T&M, look up at the bridge and you will see this engraving.
And below it is a cast iron plate sating that this is the shortest canal in England: 154ft long apparently.
Originally the SU Canal Middlewich Branch ended at Sutton Lane and did not connect with the T&M whose owners jealously guarded their canal route. Freight at that time would have been offloaded from the boats one one canal and transshipped to the other. But in the 1820s railways were appearing and it was in both companies' interest to eliminate the wasteful transhipment activity. After much heated discussion the T&M built this short connecting canal which opened in 1833. So why does the inscription read 1829? Well that was the year it was started. The delay in opening I suspect was due to the inter-company animosity.
|The whole canal in one picture!|
One last puzzle: why was it named Wardle Canal? The only explanation I have found is that due to the animosity between the two canal companies a neutral name was deemed prudent and it was named after the lock-keeper. Any takers on that one?