Having spent a few days wandering along the canals in Amsterdam, last Saturday we decided to take a few hours to explore the tow paths a little nearer to home, in Castlefield in the centre of Manchester.
Castlefield is the place where Manchester originated as it was here that the Romans established their fort and settlement of Mancunium. In 1765, the Bridgewater Canal, the first of the canals built during England’s Industrial Revolution was opened at Castlefield, creating a level link by water between the Duke of Bridgewater’s coal mines at Worsley and the centre of Manchester. At Castlefield Junction the canal linked into a stretch of the River Medlock that had been incorporated into the canal and used as the basin for the canal wharves. The Rochdale canal was connected to the Bridgewater canal here in 1805.
The first passenger railway between Liverpool and Manchester was opened in 1830 and terminated nearby in Liverpool Road. Later a number of other lines were built which crossed the canals in Castlefield on a series of bridges.
As the canals fell out of use and the warehouses closed the area became derelict, but in recent years renovation of some of the old buildings and redevelopment with construction of flats and offices has regenerated the area.
It’s quiet and peaceful walking along the quays and tow paths, looking at the boats and other people enjoying walking by the water. It was hard to believe that we were in the centre of Manchester, only a few hundred metres away from the hustle and bustle on Deansgate – and the Beetham tower was visible from many parts of the area.
This drawbridge over the canal near the quay reminded me of those in Amsterdam