Thursday, 3 March 2016

Runcorn

Each time we have gone through the three tunnels at the northern end of the Trent & Mersey Canal I wonder whether these are some of the first canal tunnels or were the surveyors drunk!  They are definitely not straight.

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The last photo provides an excellent example of how twisted they are.  It started to snow on the approach to Preston Brook Tunnel which actually made the sheltered underground trip rather pleasant.

We stopped at Midland Chandlers for a few essentials before turning left to head towards Runcorn.  Although we’ve cruised this way on two previous occasions it’s the first time we’ve bothered to detour and visit Runcorn.  I’d been expecting a rather grim cruise and was pleased to discover it was exactly the opposite.  The canal is wide and the water deep.  A good mixture of urban and rural scenery.  We reached the end where we winded before mooring close to the Brindley Theatre beside the town centre.

There isn’t much to the town centre, although the large local Cooperative and Iceland supermarkets were very handy.

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Our son thought the town was dying and the population mostly elderly.  It does have a slightly rundown look but one of the locals informed Jan there are plans to again join the Bridgewater Canal to the Manchester Ship Canal.  Apparently additional moorings are to be installed.  The idea is to transform the canal from a dead end into a ring in the hope of breathing more life back into the town.  You can see where the Bridgewater joined the Manchester Ship Canal in the following extract from Paul Balmer’s Waterway Routes map.

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Our mooring is the bottom right arrow.  Son and I went for a local walk to see if we could find any of the original canal and locks.  We followed a number of public footpaths eventually reaching the ship canal which we then followed to the east.

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If we had followed the canal in this direction we would have reached the end of the River Weaver.  However we went in the opposite direction.  Runcorn Railway Bridge was receiving some maintenance but what caught my eye was the mock battlements at the southern abutment.  I can’t see them having any useful purpose and suspect if the bridge were to be built today they would have been dropped from the design.

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The Silver Jubilee Road Bridge runs parallel to the rail bridge.  It’s a steel arch suspension bridge and the paintwork looks rather tired.  I wondered which silver jubilee it celebrated.  First built in 1961, it was widened in 1977 and renamed in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee <wiki link>

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Just upstream of the bridge was an entrance and stone wall.  I initially thought this might have been the original entrance from the ship canal up to the Bridgewater Canal.  However after looking at the map (above) I realised this wasn’t the case.

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From here were made our way back through the town to the boat where I took a final photo.

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2 comments :

Halfie said...

Tom, yes, I believe the three tunnels at the north end of the T&M were indeed the earliest built, with Brindley's Harecastle Tunnel following soon after.

Did you discover evidence of the transporter bridge? When we were last in Runcorn a few years ago we found a café with lots of information and photographs.

Are the mystery battlemented towers there to add weight and stability to the bridge support?

Oh - and did you find the house at the bottom of one of the old flights of locks with fake windows?

Tom and Jan said...

Halfie,

You are reading the next page! :-)