125 Years of the Manchester Ship Canal

25 April 2019

This year, the Manchester Ship Canal celebrates its 125th birthday! Construction began on the 36 mile long canal back in 1887 and it took 7 years to complete, finally being opened by Queen Victoria in 1894. It was hailed an ‘engineering wonder’ of the late Victorian Age and is great to visit if you are interested in industrial heritage, nature and ecology, along with seeing the incredible views of the Liverpool skyline from across the river.


It has been dubbed one of the seven man made wonders, and when constructed was one of the largest river navigation canals in the world, it is a shining example of Victorian engineering. It meant that ocean-going vessels were able to navigate their way from the Irish Sea to the heart of Manchester, making this port one of the busiest in Britain and a true industrial powerhouse. The canal was dug virtually by hand, and many of these workers sadly lost their lives in the brutal working conditions. The works include an aqueduct, 7 swing road bridges, 5 high level railway viaducts and 4 high level road bridges. It also boasts 5 sets of huge locks - Irlam, Eastham, Latchford, Barton and Mode Wheel.

This world famous inland waterway passes through these locks, and under bridges that remain largely unchanged since its construction. There are a range of trips to take, from a short cross river journey or a 50 minute river explorer, to a 6 hour cruise exploring the entire length of the canal from Liverpool to Greater Manchester. The cruise includes a live commentary on the story of the canal and how it helped shape the North-West of England.

Enjoy a fascinating journey along the inland waterway with the legendary Mersey Ferries. The full day cruise takes in the spectacular scenery leaving you with an awe-inspiring sense of how the canal's construction shaped the city of Manchester and the North West of England.

Go on a journey through time, through locks and under bridges mostly unchanged since they were built over 100 years ago. View the succession of swing bridges, an impressive sight as they turn through 90 degrees to allow ships to pass.

Take in the panoramic views as you cruise along the Mersey Estuary. Marvel at the historic buildings, industrial landscape and beautiful countryside, surrounded by nature's beauty and tranquillity.

Once on board, you will be treated to a live commentary from one of our Blue Badge Guides.“

Click here to book The Manchester Ship Canal & Lancashire Coast and Countryside tour.


With thanks to Mersey Ferries.


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