This canal was opened in 1796 as a broad canal, having been intended to link to the yet unfinished Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Wigan, but the L & L changed direction to the original plans, and the link was never made. However, it was still built and operated as a broad canal, carrying mainly coal from the many canal side collieries. The boats that were used were day boats, with no living accommodation, as journeys were usually completed within the day. Coal was loaded into specially made containers, that were held in the hull of the boat and could be craned out individually. There were boat builders and repair yards along its length, and coal mines, that although had long been disused, I remember the sites from my childhood. The canal started to suffer loss of trade as early as the beginning of the 19th century, and in 1830 there was a proposal to convert it to a railway, but the idea was dropped, although the railway was still built along a different line, adjacent to that of the canal. The end effectively came in 1936, when a section in Little Lever, (where I was born), which had been troublesome previously, finally gave up and breached into the river below. This stopped through traffic, but Ladyshore Colliery, nearby, continued for a short time to ship coal between Little Lever, Radcliffe and Bury.
Today, although sections have been filled in and sold off, what remains is in very good condition, with fantastic workmanship shown in the stone faced banks through it's whole length. The Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society are a working group who have the sole intention of restoring the canal back to full use, and have been involved in recent years in clearing the areas around the locks at Nob End, (yes really, not a joke, they are close to a lock side pub, which is now a private house, called, The Nob Inn)! They have also worked in conjunction with the regeneration of the Salford area, and have been successful in digging out, building locks and re-opening a short section of canal to navigation from The River Irwell.
Here are some photographs of a steam crane that is located on the canal bank at Mount Sion, Radcliffe, Manchester. I took these in the early 70's, using an Olympus OM-1 film camera, and processed them myself. The crane was used to unload coal from canal boats, to the storage staiths of a factory below.
You can read about the work of the MB&B Canal Society here: <Click> Their website is full of interesting information and photographs.
There are also the remains of some pretty interesting industrial machinery around and about the area as can be seen here:
A water powered beam pump at Mount Sion, Radcliffe, near Little Lever
The contributor of this photograph is Chris Allen and is copyright, but also licensed for further use under a creative commons license. See: Chris Allen profile
I hope you found that as interesting as I do.