The Manchester Ship Canal Tour provided by Mersey Ferries allows the public a rare opportunity –travelling from Manchester to Liverpool with historic bridges, locks and industrial units all available to view from a unique angle.
With the last tour of 2017 set to set sail, MM was invited aboard to experience it first-hand.
Here’s our journey:
With Salford Quays Bridge broken down, a ten minute coach journey was required to meet the boat at Espirit Dock.
For the first part of the journey, the boat needed to drop sixty feet to sea level so it could travel down the River Mersey. Five locks were required to do this, including the Mode Wheel Locks.
The lock was opened by Queen Victoria in 1894 as part of the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, and much of the technology that exists along the canal can be dated back to her era.
The first landmark we passed was the Trafford Industrial Park, which is the largest industrial park in Britain.
The Barton High Level Bridge halted boats travelling down the river last year due to a fault, but is no fully functioning to allow access to the Trafford Centre and the AJ Bell Stadium, shared by Sale Sharks and the Salford Red Devil’s.
The Ship Canal was originally built so that merchants no longer had to transport cotton from Liverpool to Manchester by road, but instead the ships could dock straight to Manchester.
Although the Ship Canal’s primary focus was to boost Manchester’s cotton trade, the city saw a huge boost in engineering works in the area and the importation of food and raw materials increased hugely due to the access that the canal provided.
The Irlam Railway Viaduct also featured on the tour, which was in use until the 1960s.
The first swing bridge on the tour was the Knutsford Road swing bridge, which is closer to the ground than the rest of the bridges, but can open to let ships through.
Promenade Park was used to house refugees during World War Two, and although plans were to knock the structure down when the war ended it still remains today with people from the local community living there.
The Silver Jubilee Bridge is a magnificent structure that connects Runcorn and Widnes, and was opened in 1964 to improve accessibility in the area.
Click below to see MM reporter Adam Wareing’s video from the final cruise of 2017:
After a delay in Ellesmere Port to allow another vessel to pass, the boat continued to its final destination in Liverpool.
The tour guides were exceptionally helpful throughout the trip, and the offer of a mobile tour guide as well as the on-board commentary allowed customers the chance to enjoy all of the historical sites along the journey.
The food was of a high quality in both on-board cafes, and seating was available for anybody who wanted it both indoors and outdoors.
Although a significant portion of the journey was spent waiting for the locks to open, this is no fault of a Mersey Ferries.
The tour provided an insight into all aspects of the ship canal, and provides real value for money if you are interested in shipping history.