Rochdale Canal Lock 91 – Manchester, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 28.468 W 002° 15.044
30U E 549729 N 5925313
Quick Description: The Rochdale canal is 32 miles long and connects Manchester on the west side of the Pennine Hills and Sowerby Bridge on the east side.
Location: North West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 3/9/2013 6:33:06 AM
Waymark Code: WMGHNG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 1

Long Description:

The Canal History
The Rochdale Canal was completed in 1804 and is one of three canals that cross the Pennine hills. This is the only one that doesn’t use long tunnels. In addition it was a broad canal with bridges and locks that allowed boats of 14 feet width to pass through.

The one downside of not using tunnels is that it originally had 92 locks. These days the original locks 3 and 4 have been combined into one deep lock.

Competition from railways and roads subsequently led to a decline in goods being carried and by 1937 the only section left in operation was at the Manchester end of the canal.

In 1965 there was talk of abandoning the canal but by this time leisure boating had become very popular in the UK and there was a campaign to keep it open. Work was started and the canal slowly re-opened in a number of different stages. The whole length finally reopened in September 2007.

The Rochdale 9 Locks
The Bridgewater Canal was the first canal in the U.K. that was totally purpose built and did not follow the course of a river. It connected Worsley with Manchester and terminated at the Castlefield Basin.

The Duke of Bridgewater would not originally give permission for the Rochdale Canal to join the Bridgewater Canal because he wanted to maintain his monopoly. Because of this the Rochdale Canal was originally going to terminate at the eastern side of Manchester near Piccadilly.

However when other plans were put forward for another canal to bypass Manchester he relented and allowed the canal to join onto the Bridgewater. It was necessary to construct 9 locks between Piccadilly and the junction with the Bridgewater canal and they are known as the Rochdale 9. These 9 locks and the ones from here to Rochdale opened in 1799, 5 years before the canal finally reached Sowerby Bridge.

This stretch of canal passes right through the centre of the city of Manchester. In some places it is almost at road level and plainly visible, but for the most part is below street level and between tall buildings and unless you know it's there is easily missed. Apart from one short stretch it is possible to walk along the whole length of the tow path.

Details of this lock
This is the eighth lock in the series of 9 and below road level and at the side of a series of railway arches that formed part of the railway viaduct that leads to the old Central Station. These days the viaduct is used by the Metrolink light rail tram system and it passes to the side of the station. The lock is next to Deansgate Tunnel which takes the canal under Deansgate one of the main gateway roads into the City of Manchester.

The site here is very restricted and there is no easy access across the canal. Boat owners using the lock have to use the gate arms themselves on the top gate and there is a metal handrail for use when crossing to the other side. There is also a small metal stirrup hanging down form the lock arm to be used as a step onto the arm.

This lock is the penultimate one from where the canal joins the Bridgewater Canal. When the Rochdale Canal was first built here it used to pass through a short tunnel that had been bored through a low escarpment of sandstone. When this area of Manchester had grown and Deansgate needed to be widened in 1902 the roof of the tunnel was removed. Deansgate now effectively is carried on a girder bridge over the canal, but is so wide that is still called Deansgate Tunnel.

The site of the lock is hemmed in by the railway viaduct and Whitworth Street West and the pavement has had to be suspended over the tow path of the canal and supported by iron girders.

Steps leading from the canal tow path up to the bottom lock gates are actually under the end of Deansgate Tunnel.

The locks on this canal have a double set of gates at each end and at 14 feet are wide enough to allow 2 narrow boats to use the lock side by side.

The paddles to control the water flow are built into the bottom gates and are on the canal bank for the top gates. The bottom gates were replaced in 2004 by new ones built at Northwich.

The side of the lock is cobbled and the heel stones that are used to provide grip when pushing the lock gates are metal, an unusual design.

On many locks there are warning signs on the top gate about making sure the boat does not get caught on the cill. It's not always obvious what this means, but basically the wooden lock top gate does not go to the bottom of the lock but sits on a stone base. When the lock is full and a boat is going down, the cill is not visible. This means that when the water is released from the lock it is possible for the boat to get caught on the cill. When the lock is empty it is much easier to understand how this works.

The lock is an English Heritage Grade II listed building. This website refers to the tunnel name as Gaythorn Tunnel.
Waterway Name: The Rochdale Canal

Connected Points:
Connects to the Bridgewater Canal at Manchester on the west side of the Pennine Hills and the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge on the east side. There is also a junction with the Ashton Canal on the east side of Manchester.

Type: Lock

Date Opened: 1/1/1799

Elevation Difference (meters): 2.00

Site Status: Operational

Web Site: [Web Link]

Date Closed (if applicable): Not listed

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