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Stockport Branch Canal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stockport Branch Canal
Abbey Hey Lane Bridge - - 2411715.jpg
Many of the canal's structures have survived, including this bridge at Abbey Hey Lane
Statusmostly a footpath
Original ownerAshton Canal Company
Date of act1793
Date of first use1797
Date closed1962
Start pointClayton
End pointStockport
Connects toAshton Canal
Stockport Canal
Ashton Canal locks 10 + 11
A635 Ashton Old Road bridge
Gorton Stn aqueduct
Maintenance arm
Abbey Hey Lane bridge
Hyde Road station and bridge
A57 Hyde Road bridge
Reddish North bridge and station
Station Road bridge
Longford Road West bridge
B5169 Broadstone Road bridge
Reddish South bridge and station
Beat Bank Branch Canal
Broadstone Hall Road bridge
Lancashire Hill bridge
Wharf Street bridge
Stockport wharf
Stockport Basin

The Stockport Branch Canal was a 5-mile (8 km) branch of the Ashton Canal from Clayton to Stockport.


The canal left the main line of the Ashton Canal at Stockport Junction (otherwise Clayton Junction), between locks 10 and 11 at Clayton, and it terminated at Stockport Basin just beyond the top of Lancashire Hill. It was just less than five miles long (7.87 km) and it was lock free.

It went through Gorton, Abbey Hey and Reddish and it opened for trade in 1797.[1]

At Reddish, it was intended that a further branch (the Beat Bank Branch Canal) would be built, and work actually began on construction of this branch. Only an isolated section of that branch was ever built, and it never connected with the Stockport Branch.


The canal was for the most part urban, being heavily industrialised along most of its length. Between Clayton and Gorton there was a heavy concentration of engineering factories and ironworks as well as the Canal Company’s Depot at Gorton. Beyond Gorton, all the way through Reddish, cotton mills predominated.

Working life

The main line of the Ashton Canal had been authorised by Act of Parliament in June 1792, and in March 1793 the Proprietors obtained a second Act, which authorised a branch to Stockport, a branch which would leave the Stockport branch at Reddish and run along the Tame Valley to Beat Bank to serve some coal mines at Haughton Green, and a separate branch to Hollinwood. The Act authorised the Proprietors to raise an additional £30,000, with which to fund all three branches. Although the Company advertised for an engineer, they did not find one, and their agent James Meadows probably oversaw the construction. The Hollinwood branch was finished first, in late 1796, but the Stockport branch opened soon afterwards, in January 1797.[2]

With good supplies of coal from the mines at Werneth which the Hollinwood branch served, and difficulties in building the Beat Bank branch due to it being on a clay slope, the Company decided to abandon further work on the Beat Bank branch, and notified William Hulton, the owner of the collieries at Denton, that they could not afford to continue. An Act to formally abandon it was sought in 1798, and although opposed by Hulton, it was obtained. In the same year, the Canal Company built warehouses at Stockport, and wharves were allocated there to assist the Werneth Colliery to sell its coal, and thus generate more traffic on the canal.[3]

With the coming of the railways, traffic fell, and dividends had dropped to 6 per cent by 1842. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway offered to buy the canal for an annual payment of £12,364, which would give the shareholders a 7 per cent return, and with a further payment of £540 per year to fund interest payments on debts, the Canal Company accepted gratefully in 1846. The takeover was formalised by an Act of Parliament in 1848, which required the Railway Company to maintain the canal in good order.[4] This they did for many years, running their own boats for the carriage of goods until 1892. The Canal Company was wound up in 1883, and the shareholders were given shares in the Railway Company.[5]

The canal was principally used to carry general cargo, such as supplying raw cotton to the mills and returning with manufactured goods. It also carried coal for the mills and the townsfolk who lived in the neighbourhood. Another important cargo was the supply of grain to William Nelstrop & Company’s Albion Corn Mill at Stockport Basin.

In its early days there was passenger carrying on the Ashton Canal and one of the routes was between Manchester and Stockport.

Decline and closure

The canal began to decline as a result of competition from railways and roads, and was described as derelict as early as 1922.[1]

Commercial carrying ceased in the 1930s but it lingered on into the 1950s as a barely navigable waterway. At one stage in the 1950s it was dredged but this improvement did not attract any traffic. Stockport Basin was the first section to be filled in but it was not until 1962 that the canal was officially abandoned by the British Transport Commission,[6] who had been responsible for it since 1948. It took many years to fill in and this was a disagreeable procedure for people living along its length.

Restoration movement

Much of the line of the former canal remains intact and there were suggestions that if could be re-opened as an amenity canal in the early 2000s;[7][8] these plans had the support of local authorities. A British Waterways report indicated that reopening the canal was technically feasible.[9]

The Manchester and Stockport Canal Society was formed in 2004, and have worked to improve the condition of the remains, as well as bringing them to public attention. This has included the erection of nine green plaques on significant structures along the route,[10] and regular working parties to clean up the footpath which follows the original line of the canal.[11] While the ultimate aim of the Society is to see the restoration of the canal for navigation, they recognise that this may take a long time, and so are concentrating on smaller, achievable projects.[12]

Points of interest

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

See also


  • Hadfield, Charles; Biddle, Gordon (1970). The Canals of North West England (Vol 2). David and Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-4992-2.


  1. ^ a b Downham, W A (1922). "Chapter XIII". In Astle, William (ed.). Stockport Advertiser Centenary History of Stockport. Stockport: Swain and Co Ltd. pp. 142–149. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  2. ^ Hadfield & Biddle 1970, pp. 294–295
  3. ^ Hadfield & Biddle 1970, pp. 295–296
  4. ^ Hadfield & Biddle 1970, p. 305
  5. ^ Hadfield & Biddle 1970, pp. 441–442
  6. ^ Hadfield & Biddle 1970, p. 442
  7. ^ Bates, W (2004). "Canal Society". Archived from the original on 8 August 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  8. ^ Bottomley, Robert (22 March 2004). "Return of the lost canal". Manchester Evening News. GMG Regional Digital. Archived from the original on 10 September 2007.
  9. ^ Scott, Peter. "Councillors Annual Report". Stockport Council. Archived from the original (pdf) on 27 August 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  10. ^ "Canal Line Plaques". Manchester and Stockport Canal Society. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020.
  11. ^ "News Archive 2019". Manchester and Stockport Canal Society. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Projects". Manchester and Stockport Canal Society. Archived from the original on 9 August 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 February 2021, at 17:33
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