Bridgewater Canal

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2011

Mike Clarke

Mike Clarke delves into the navigation that started the Canal Age

On 17th July 1761, Barton Aqueduct was filled with water for the first time. By the end of the year, the Bridgewater Canal was open between Worsley and Longford Bridge, Stretford, 3 miles west of Manchester. In general, canals were built for three reasons: to cheapen the cost of an existing traffic; to help existing businesses expand; or in the hope that the canal would encourage new trade to develop. The Bridgewater Canal is unusual in that all three reasons were behind its construction, and all three provided substantial profits for the canal. Coal influenced the development of many roads and canals. Liverpool relied upon coal from the Prescot and St Helens area, and it was the poor roads there which led to the 1720 Act for the Douglas Navigation. This was to supply the town with coal from Wigan. The authorisation of the Liverpool to Prescot turnpike in 1726 was probably because construction of the Douglas Navigation had stalled. Manchester’s coal came by road from collierie…

To read the full article…

…you need to be a subscriber to NarrowBoat. If you are, you can login here. If not, you can buy a subscription here . If you are having trouble logging in, please contact support at

Bridgewater Canal featured image