Macclesfield Projects

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Spring 2021

Richard Dean

Richard Dean details early competing schemes for a Potteries-to-Manchester canal

During construction of the Peak Forest Canal in the 1790s, the proprietors were attracted to the idea of a lengthy extension from the top of Marple Locks southwards through Macclesfield to the Trent & Mersey at Kidsgrove. This would considerably shorten the Manchester-to-Potteries/Midlands route and service an extensive area of East Cheshire and North Staffordshire. It was soon adjusted at the southern end to join the Caldon Branch, with the advantage of avoiding the bottleneck of Harecastle Tunnel. By following the contour line, it would stay on the same level as the Peak Forest summit for 27 miles past the Poynton Collieries and Macclesfield, to fall by four locks into the Caldon Branch at Endon. A short branch would service the town of Leek, and another could be made to near Congleton if needed. The engineer of the Peak Forest, Benjamin Outram, suggested a possible cost in 1796 of £90,000, but finance was becoming difficult to raise, even for a shortened canal as far as …

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