Reporter: Jonquil Lewis
A beautiful, sunny autumn morning saw 26 members assemble outside Deansgate station where we were joined by our excellent guide and his co-enthusiast, Don and Gloria.
Don and Gloria then led us on a fascinating 3 mile walk - just as it said on the tin - exploring further the historic canals of the city and the tow - paths to Salford Docks. Both our guides have a wealth of knowledge and experience and long-standing pedigrees as footpath enthusiasts and activists and we were happy to hear their tales.
The Dukes lock 92 at the Castlefield confluence was a rough no-go area in the 1960’s but it has been redeveloped with a nice bouncy footbridge, drinking establishments and residential properties. We had now left the Rochdale Canal to join the Bridgewater Canal, opened in 1761 by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater to carry his coal from mines in Worsley to Manchester. This was the first truly commercial canal.
Next came a new footbridge to St Georges Island at Hulme locks. This area has also been gentrified. The canal locks join up to the canalized River Irwell which took traffic on to Runcorn and is part of the Cheshire Ring. At the site of the old North Western Road Car company can still be seen 'long setts', which were the original wagon tracks.
The Mark Addy footbridge denotes our entry into Salford. Mark Addy was a publican and champion oarsman who rescued dozens of Victorian children and adults from drowning in the filthy water. He was awarded the Albert Medal for gallantry.
The canal was known as the 'Sewage Canal'. Salford council restored the towpath and there are colourful murals eventually giving way to graffiti. For no very good reason they sometimes close this path. The Ship Canal proper starts along here at the site of Woden's Cave, a place of pre Christian Saxon worship. It became such a tourist attraction that the 19C landowner destroyed all traces. At the Trafford swing bridge are the last remains of the Throstles Nest locks on the Mersey and Irwell Navigation.
Then we arrived at the familiar Salford Quays area along the Trafford Promenade. There is an outdoor sculpture installation here with grey painted relics from the age of canal transport - Silent Cargoes. There is shortly to be a new footbridge connecting The Lowry with Media City. The latter is a series of imposing glass palaces waiting for their lucky occupants.
Along the way we saw arty crafty life size cows, joggers, serious looking rowers, very messy geese and wall to wall sunshine with nil rain.
The tram then took us from Harbour City metro station to St Peters Square in the centre of Manchester. A very good lunch followed at Felucini's, opposite the Palace Theatre. All agreed that the walk had been very enjoyable and allowed us to see parts of our local area which is little appreciated.
Many thanks go to the organizers, Barry Lewis and Ian Harford for a most enjoyable and informative outing.