Sunday, 24 April 2016

Back in Leigh

It’s just over a month since we last arrived in Leigh where the Bridgewater joins the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. There are no notices but apparently CRT licensed boats are only allowed to spend 7 days on the Bridgewater and may not return until 28 days have elapsed.  We are moored just short of the Bridgewater.

My musing over the junction at Parbold has resulted in yet more useful information from readers.  Don informed me the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was supposed to turn north at Parbold for Leyland with a branch to Wigan.  Then Jim sent me an extract from a leaflet published by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society as far as the Parbold - Leyland route is concerned:

The canal between Parbold and Dean was originally known as Leigh’s Cut after the main owner of the old Douglas Navigation, which was in operation from 1741 to 1781. The canal opened from Liverpool to Parbold in 1774, when Parbold was intended to be a canal junction, with the main line of the canal from Liverpool continuing to Leyland on a line through the dry dock. From Leyland, the canal was to follow the Ribble Valley, crossing the Calder by a large aqueduct at Whalley, and reaching the canal’s summit level at Foulridge through Padiham. At Parbold, a branch canal — Leigh’s Cut — gave access to the Douglas Navigation at Dean. The canal’s route was changed in 1794, and today the branch canal is the main line, providing a route to Wigan and the ‘new’ 1794 route. It is the reason for the sharp bend at Parbold, as this was designed as the junction between the two canals.

I’ve attempted to show the very rough route of the proposed canal on the following map extract.


The red arrow points to Wigan.

I’m grateful to Don and Jim for the additional information.

This afternoon I went exploring around the northern fringes of Leigh.  The route took me through Lilford Park which is a large expanse of grass and woodlands.  The park was gifted to Leigh by Lord Lilford. In the Victorian era it had a crescent-shaped lake, about a kilometre in length spanned by a three-arch stone bridge constructed in 1724, It was popular with visitors. The bridge was known as Lions Bridge from the carved stone lions on pedestals at intervals on its length. The lake dried up in the 19th century and the bridge collapsed in 1905.  Whilst there were no obvious signs of the lake or bridge it was the following that came as a surprise.


This looks very similar to the O-Bahn in Adelaide, South Australia and it looks new!   When I returned to Waiouru I examined the map in an effort to identify what was going on.


The bottom right arrow points to where the above photos were taken and the map does show an almost straight track.  The two other arrows also point to straight tracks.  My guess is these are former railway lines.  Things became clearer when I did some internet searching.  Wikipedia was very useful.

Leigh is one of the largest towns in Britain without a railway station since the closure of the Tyldesley Loopline in 1969 and suffers from poor connections to neighbouring towns. The Leigh-Salford-Manchester guided busway was proposed to improve access to Manchester city centre from Leigh, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook and regenerate areas of the former Lancashire Coalfield

The Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit scheme is a guided busway and bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme promoted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) opened on 3 April 2016. From Leigh, a limited-stop bus service joins 7 km of guided busway to Ellenbrook, 6 km of bus lanes on the East Lancashire Road and sections of reserved bus lanes through Salford and Manchester city centres.

So the BRT commenced operation only 20 days ago. 

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