Big City – Manchester Canals

I must admit I’m not very comfortable in big cities.  Coming from the countyside I find them claustrophobic and at times intimidating.  My daughter the ‘Lemming’ is now in her third year at university in Manchester studying music journalism (check out her blog  We have just returned from a visit, she always tells me to leave my camera behind as I could be a target for muggers!  This time I took the old Nikon and sneaked out of the hotel to get some images.

Rochdale Canal looking west to lock 92

I am always drawn to water and am fascinated by old canals.  These man-made waterways were constructed in the 17 and 1800’s, during the industrial revolution, to provide transport in and out of cities for raw materials and finished goods.  With the coming of the railways they mostly fell into disrepair.  However in recent times most have been brought back to life, providing boating holidays and recreation, a ‘green lung’ in the heart of urban sprawl.

Castlefield Basin where the Bridgewater Canal meets the River Medlock

It was a lovely walk in the cool early morning sun and no I wasn’t mugged.  People on their way to work ignoring me or perhaps wondering what I was photographing.

Narrow boats outside ‘The Wharf’ public house
Duke’s Lock No92. The start/finish of the Rochdale Canal

This section of the Rochdale Canal that I walked was the last to be finished and opened in 1804.  It is called the Deansgate Locks.  The locks, nine in total, are used to raise or lower the barges and narrow boats and must require a fair bit of physical effort to operate.

A fine old railway bridge, looking east toward the Deansgate Tunnel
Lock 91 at the end of the Deansgate Tunnel
Lock 90 looking west. The old railway arches on the right have been transformed into swanky bars and restaurants

Hope you enjoyed this post.  It has been a bit of an indulgence for me, a chance to try a new type of photography.

31 thoughts on “Big City – Manchester Canals

  1. Lovely shots.

    Pains me to say it, and we’ve discussed this before, it is sad that one has to be ”warned” about the likelihood of being mugged in an English city in broad daylight.

    My crew offer similar warnings when we go out and I look longingly at the cameras sitting on my desk.
    How do pro photographers and photo-journalists cope, I wonder?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Must be awful for you.
        Whereas with me , they seem to rush over and then stop with a, ”Oh I thought you were someone handsome and famous” look.
        *Sigh* ‘Tis a cross I have to bear.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Nah don’t think he recognised me, peasant! Yes he was a great player, It’s said he is still fit enough to play now, he didn’t have the paunch a lot of ex-pros have. was going to take a piccy of Old Trafford and post that just to wind you up!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. As with Doctor Who, I would look at your offering from behind the settee through splayed fingers!
        That said, I shall be cheering them on tomorrow against their across town rivals, albeit quietly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These are great photos, Brian. We sailed through here on a narrow boat some years ago – doing the Cheshire Ring. I think it’s closed now through Manchester, to the north of the city anyway, there being too much agro from the locals. As indeed happened to us. You’re a real sitting duck in one of those lock basins. But it was great to be able to moor up overnight in the heart of the city (where there were no problems at all) and go for a pizza.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes Brian! I did enjoy this post! I love images of water – flowing, still, and especially reflections! It always amazes me what folks have built and all the common workmen who spent year after year toiling and building great works while the credit goes to Kings and Politicians and maybe even some Designers and Engineers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right Michael, those canals were dug by hand, the barges that used them were drawn by horses, they were very, very hard times. Now there is a strange beauty in this once very industrial landscape.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the tour Brian! Definitely enjoy being able to see places I may never get to in person. Appears to be an interesting mixture of the old canal architecture coupled with what appears to be impressively large scrapers in the background. Especially like the first and fifth shots, nice composition with a multitude of lines to follow around the image to new discoveries. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find it difficult to capture on camera what I see with my eyes and the mood, so often they turn out to be just snapshots. I wanted to get that feeling of old and new, also peace in a very big busy city. I like the way wild plants grow from the once polluted, industrial landscape. I too like the first shot, the straightness of the canal and at a tangent the rail track, then the little windows made by the arches. I’m going to do a post next week with a few thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think that the city is not that muggy, especially along this particular stretch of canal. Maybe on some back streets in Northern Quarter… Nice photos though, I did a photo-shoot there a few days ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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