A squint at canals
In part 1 I posted some pictures of some of the grand designs in the architecture of old Manchester. Today it’s the canal.
One of Manchester’s important trade routes was through its canal network. Most people have heard of the Manchester Ship Canal, which is the 36 mile (58km) navigation linking Manchester, which is 40 miles (64km) inland, with the port of Liverpool and the Irish Sea. Although a huge expense at the time of its construction in 1887, it proved the most successful way of shipping cargo inland.
Following the courses of the Rivers Mersey, and Irwell (the latter being Manchester’s principal river) the Ship Canal has links with the Bridgewater Canal and the Rochdale Canal.
We decided to have a wander down a small part of the Rochdale canal during our few hours in the city. A good starting place was Canal Street, in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village. This is where the evil Moors Murderer Ian Brady spent his last hours of freedom in October 1965 before being apprehended.
After various grants and initiatives, the once derelict and dilapidated canal areas have undergone a lot of restoration and ‘doing-up’ as part of the general urban regeneration of Manchester. Fashionable shops, bars, hotels, venues and expensive luxury apartment complexes have sprung up along parts of the Rochdale canal bringing trade, business and tourism back to a once run-down area.
But amongst all this, and running concurrent with both the modern buildings and the original features such as the Victorian red brick railway bridge carrying trains from stations at Piccadilly through Oxford Road and Deansgate out to the west, lies an unpleasant aspect of modern life.
We came across a section of the Rochdale Canal which had been drained. The amount of general rubbish, plastic pop bottles, beer cans and even bikes and tents which had been off-loaded into the water was disgusting. A disgraceful reminder of that section of society who have a complete disregard for pollution and respect for our fragile little world.
There was apparently due to be a canal clear-up on the day as we were passing. We were asked if we were volunteers attending, as no-one had yet shown up. Sadly on this occasion we weren’t able to help. On another day, with preparation, it’s a job I wouldn’t have turned my nose up at. Helping the environment is important. But seeing all this was a sad reminder of the attitudes of some of our ‘disposable’ society.
We carried on walking to see if there was any beauty to be found on the parts of the canal before the updated bits (as we weren’t going that far). All around you can still see history, the Victorian architecture and signs that once this was a busy industrial area.
In part 3, we continue our walk back into the city centre up Deansgate, where a lot of the older buildings mix in with the new.