Posted 4th Apr 2018
In the next of our History of the Waterways features, courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust, we find out about the Barton Swing Aqueduct
Another of the 'Seven Wonders of the Waterways', the Barton Swing Aqueduct carries the Bridgewater Canal across the Manchester Ship Canal.
As the world's only swing aqueduct, it's no overstatement to say it represented one of the biggest engineering feats throughout the whole Victorian era.
The Barton Swing Aqueduct actually replaced an older stationary aqueduct - the Barton Aqueduct - that had been built in 1761 across the River Irwell to allow the Bridgewater Canal to connect the coal mines at Worsley with the factories in the centre of Manchester. However, when the canal was bought by the Manchester Ship Canal Company in 1885, it quickly became apparent that the old Barton Aqueduct would need replacing, as it wasn't big enough to allow modern boats through.
The Barton Swing Aqueduct was painstakingly constructed, with engineering mechanics that became the talk of the town across Britain. Boats would sail into the aqueduct channel, which would then be sealed off at each end, swing round and unseal again - this is a system which is still used by the aqueducts to this very day.
If you're visiting the aqueduct, why not make a day of it and visit Old Trafford stadium, the Lowry theatre and art museum or the nearby Imperial War Museum?
Did you know...
- The aqueduct channel is 235 feet long and 18 feet wide, holding an astonishing 800 tonnes of water.
- Since the Swing Aqueduct was built next to the original stone aqueduct before it could be demolished, engineers couldn’t test the swing before it was finished. Thankfully, it worked perfectly.
- The Barton Swing Aqueduct is a Grade II listed structure.
- Next to Barton Swing Aqueduct is the refurbished All Saints church - perhaps the best example of a Victorian Gothic church in the North.