The Runcorn one, I am, rather surprisingly, having a little trouble with. Although probably not the kind of trouble you would expect. I am struggling to edit it down to be a realistic length for a single blog post... so, I decided to split it down into sections!
The Bridgewater Canal
According to The Duke's Cut, by Cyril J Wood, the Bridgewater Canal was the first 'True Canal' in Britain. According to the book, the St Helens/Sankey Canal, which was built between 1754-1757 (started - opened) is thought of as the first canal, but it was formed by improving an existing watercourse, the Sankey Brook, which technically makes it a navigation, rather than a canal. So, the Bridgewater, the first section of which was begun on 1st July 1759 (after an act of parliament was passed to allow it) and opened in August of 1765, was the first modern canal in the UK.
The canal was the originally conceived by the first Duke of Bridgewater, Scroop Egerton, who died in 1744 without pursuing his idea of connecting his mines at Worsley in Manchester to a canal. His youngest son, Francis, who became the third Duke of Bridgewater, however, engaged his mine agent, John Gilbert to begin a survey to investigate the possibility of connected the mines to a canal.
A year later, he engaged a millwright, James Brindley, to complete the survey of the mines and subsequently the canal was begun at Castlefield in Manchester. In 1761 James Brindley began a survey to look into an extension of the canal, and by 1762, another act of Parliament had been passed to allow the canal to be extended to meet the River Mersey at Runcorn.
James Brindley never lived to see the canal fully opened, after construction on the Runcorn section was delayed by a disagreement with Sir Richard Brook, who objected to the canal running through his land at Norton Priory. James Brindley died in 1772, but the dispute with Sir Richard Brook was not resolved until 1775, after parliament intervened. The full canal was finally opened to traffic on 21st March 1776, running between the river Mersey at Runcorn, although this part has since been filled in, joining the Mersey & Irwell Navigation at Preston Brook, and running all of the way through Lymm, Altrincham and Sale, and terminating at Castlefield in Manchester.
I am lucky enough to live quite close to the canal and try to walk a short section of it, between Norton Priory and Preston Brook, every day. I am hoping to eventually walk the entire length of the canal, even if I have to walk it in sections!
Although, I didn't start where the top locks used to be, until they were filled in between 1948-66 for the construction of the Silver Jubilee Bridge, today, I started walking at the Doctor's Bridge footbridge, and walked home along the towpath. It was almost 5 miles, the weather was glorious, and I stopped to take a number of photographs (which I am sure is a great surprise to you)
|Doctor's Bridge, footbridge over the canal looking towards the old 'top locks', you may not be surprised to learn that the Doctor's surgery is just to the right of the photograph.|
|The Brindley Theatre, from the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal.|
|The boat club on the canal|
|and members of the boat club working on the Runcorn Basin. Not sure what they were doing, but they were a friendly bunch!|
|One of the Bridges over the canal. You can see the sandstone that Runcorn was famous for.|
|Swans with six cygnets|
|A picture of the towpath from the pond at Phoenix Park, you have no idea of the supporting wall's existence whilst you're walking on the tow path.|
|Water lilies on the canal.|
|A barge or narrow boat on the canal - this one is heading towards Preston Brook Marina|
|A family of moorhens|
|One of many fishermen who spend time on the canal.|
|Honeysuckle growing wild along the tow path|
|Irises growing in the banks of the canal.|
|This is Bill (not taken today) who fishes on the canal frequently, and was happy to talk to me about his catch. He is an angler, so he always throws them back at the end of each day.|
|One of Bill's catch|
|A heron! He's a bit camera shy, so this is the best I have caught of him so far!|