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Lock 92, Castlefield, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
Marking the meeting point of the Bridgewater and Rochdale canals is Rochdale's former lock 92. This symbolic spot lends its name to this website and is your starting point to discovering northern England's rich and fascinating canal heritage.
Lock 92 Keeper's House

Rochdale Canal
Lock 92 lowers the Rochdale canal into the Bridgewater at Castlefield. In the background are the railway viaducts that straddle the Castlefield basin - the Manchester terminus of the Bridgewater canal.
Lock 92 Bridge, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
This bridge marks the junction of the Bridgewater canal (in the foreground) and the Rochdale canal (on the other side of the bridge). The gates of the final lock of the Rochdale canal (formerly the 92nd lock) can just be seen through the bridge. Click on the dates in 'Photo history' to see how this spot has been renovated. (1973 photo courtesy of Alan Kempster.)
Duke's 92 Public House, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Once the stables for the horses that towed the barges, this charming building is now a bustling public house serving - among others - Belgian beer and a wide selection of cheese and pate. The canal and Lock 92 lies alongside the far end of the building.
Bridgewater Basin, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Castlefield is now bustling following extensive regeneration and the opening of several pubs and warehouse conversions in the area. Click on the dates in 'Photo history' to see how this spot has been renovated. (1973 photo courtesy of Alan Kempster.)
View to Coal Wharf, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Although no longer in use, at one time coal barges passed through the arches of the building in the background of the photo to unload their cargo. This cargo was hoisted up to street level where it was loaded onto awaiting waggons for distribution throughout the city. The building of the canal led to the price of coal halving, thereby ensuring the canal's continued success.
View from Coal Wharf, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Taken in May 1973, this photo (courtesy of Alan Kempster) shows that this spot was stilling being used even as late as then to store coal. The warehouse in the distance on the right was the property of the Manchester Ship Canal Company at the time.
Merchant's Warehouse, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
This former warehouse has been renovated and is now the home of a major computer games software company. Click on the dates in 'Photo history' to see how this spot has been renovated. (1973 photo courtesy of Alan Kempster.)
Merchant's Warehouse, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Taken in May 1973, this photo (courtesy of Alan Kempster) shows the former state of the Merchant's warehouse on its side that adjoins the Bridgewater basin. The warehouse in the distance was the property of the Manchester Ship Canal Company at the time.
Dilapidating Old Barge, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
This intriguing photo, taken by Alan Kempster in May 1973, shows the remains of a dilapidating former working barge grounded close to lock 92. Closer inspection - click on the photo to enlarge it - reveals that the barge was once the property of the Rochdale Canal Company.
'Lowry' Barge, Castlefield

Rochdale Canal
Used as a public pleasure craft and cruiser for visitors to the Castlefield area, the 'Lowry' barge takes its name from the famous former painter from nearby Salford. Lowry became famous through his unique and immediately distinctive style of painting that depicted the foreboding industrial landscape and grim working class life in the area in the early-to-mid 1900s.
View to Deansgate from Lock92

Rochdale Canal
Taken from the hump-backed bridge adjoining the former 92nd lock of the Rochdale canal, this easterly view towards Deansgate shows the start of a pleasant towpath walk that passes 8 further locks as the canal cuts its way through the heart of Manchester.
Viaducts nr Whitworth St, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
Photographed by Alan Kempster in May 1973 many years prior to the canal's recent renovation, this haunting view shows the former torrid state and extensive demise of the canal following its abandonment in 1958.
Company Warehouse, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
This imposing stone warehouse, built by the Rochdale Canal Company, retains its arches where barges once entered the building. Click on the dates to see how the warehouse has remained run-down (1973 photo courtesy of Alan Kempster.)
Company Warehouse, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
Now dilapidating, this former brick warehouse of the Rochdale Canal Company seems set for restoration, possibly to inner city apartments.
Company Warehouse, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
Still bearing its owners name despite its dilapidating state, this former brick warehouse of the Rochdale Canal Company seems set for restoration.
Company Office Door, Manchester

Rochdale Canal
The Rochdale Canal Company built an office and warehouses in Manchester. Here is the front door of their office, opening directly onto Dale Street.
Ashton Junction (E View)

Rochdale Canal
The meeting point of the Rochdale and Ashton canals, with the Ashton heading away underneath the bridge.
Ashton Junction (S View)

Rochdale Canal
Looking towards Manchester city centre, the canal here is undergoing restoration. In the background, also being restored, is Ducie St Warehouse, once the property of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Company.
Ashton Junction (N to Ancoats)

Rochdale Canal
The canal here, again undergoing extensive restoration, leads northwards towards Ancoats and - in the background - an old former brick cotton mill, itself set for major renovation.
New Union St Bridge (S to Ancoats)

Rochdale Canal
Looking south towards Ancoats and beyond that Manchester city centre, the canal here is flanked with several former Cotton Mills, some of which are set for major renovation.
Bridge, Miles Plattings' Locks

Rochdale Canal
This elegant bridge built from alternating layers of brick and stone provides a distinctive feature. On its far side, water can be seen cascading down the concrete steps at the place where the lock gates once stood.
Bridge, Miles Plattings' Locks

Rochdale Canal
In contrast to its other side, this side of the bridge has been colourfully adorned with graffiti. The lock before the bridge has been filled in almost completely, leaving all but a few inches of water cascading down the concrete steps at the place where the lock gates once stood.
Miles Plattings' Locks

Rochdale Canal
Making their way through the northern reaches of Manchester, these two barges are helped through the locks at Miles Plattings.
Pound, Miles Plattings' Locks

Rochdale Canal
The pound here lies just beyond the Bridge and locks at Mile's Platting. Surrounding the pound on either side lies a large housing estate, the reason behind the canal being filled in (to less than two inches of water) by Manchester Corporation to prevent any accidents.
Mill, Miles Plattings

Rochdale Canal
This elegant former cotton mill sits dominantly beside the canal, itself being firmly blocked at this point by a concrete walkway. Manchester city centre can be seen in the background to the south.
Newton Heath Locks

Rochdale Canal
A haven of tranquility? These locks at Newton Heath, surrounded by bushes and trees, hide the fact that the canal here passes through a built up residential area. The locks have been filled in (to less than 2 inches of water), and both pairs of lock gates have been removed.
Bridge, Newton Heath Locks

Rochdale Canal
The bridge here on Old Church St, Newton Heath, crosses the canal near the site of a former lock that has since been filled in (to less than 2 inches of water). Where the lock gates once stood is now a set of concrete steps, allowing the water to overflow.
Overflow, Newton Heath Locks

Rochdale Canal
Surviving other alterations made to the canal since it was closed, this water overflow channel alongside the former lock at Old Church St, Newton Heath, is striking in both its construction and use of attractive stone building material.
Blockage at Failsworth Car Park

Rochdale Canal
One of the major obstructions on the Rochdale canal, the shopping centre and its adjoining car park here at set for demolition to allow free passage of the canal once again. With the amount of land that will become available, hopefully this spot will eventually incorporate amenities and even a marina?
Locks near Chadderton Fold

Rochdale Canal
An idyllic summer country canal scene - despite being only a matter of minutes away from the busy towns of Chadderton and Middleton.
Slattocks' Lock 54

Rochdale Canal
Despite being overgrown by bushes and ferns, it is still possible to imagine what Lock 54 at Slattocks and its adjoining humped-back bridge may have been like during the former 'Golden Age' of the Rochdale canal.
Slattocks' Lock 54 (View N)

Rochdale Canal
Heading towards the pennines in the far distance, the canal strides confidently onwards from Lock 54 at Slattocks. On the canal and its bank beyond the lock, several geese are busily feeding.
Slattocks' Lock 55

Rochdale Canal
This shot of the former position of one of the gates of Lock 55 highlights the quality of workmanship and stone materials that went into building the Rochdale canal.
Slattocks' Lock 57 (View S)

Rochdale Canal
Now overgrown and teeming with plant life, the Rochdale canal heads off south from here at Lock 57 on its journey towards Manchester. Only one pair of lock gates are present.
Blockage, M62 (View S)

Rochdale Canal
Another major blockage on the Rochdale canal, here the M62 motorway cuts square through the line of where the canal once ran. Fortunately, just a short distance to the left of this spot lies a cattle tunnel, which is the proposed new route for the canal's passage.
Proposed new Tunnel, S under M62

Rochdale Canal
This cattle tunnel just to the east of the Rochdale canal is the proposed new route for the canal's passage beneath the M62 motorway. Without the close proximity of this tunnel, the full restoration of the Rochdale may have been in doubt.
Proposed new Cut, W alongside M62

Rochdale Canal
This overgrown land at the side of the M62 embankment is proposed to link the cattle tunnel and the canal's current point of blockage at the motorway. The entrance to the cattle tunnel is to the immediate left.
Bridge over former Heywood Branch

Rochdale Canal
The brick railway bridge here cuts squarely across the former site of the Heywood branch canal. Through the bridge in the distance lies the M62 motorway, the blue direction sign being close to the spot where the motorway currently bisects the Rochdale and representing a major obstacle to restoration.
Motorway Roundabout off M62

Rochdale Canal
Another major blockage, the roundabout here marking the end of the A627(M) and its meeting point with the A664 completely obliterates the original passage of the canal. Circumnavigating the roundabout will be a major feat, possibly involving the construction of a number of new locks to the north of the roundabout.
Culvert at Motorway Roundabout

Rochdale Canal
A closer look at the roundabout where the A627(M) meets the A664, showing the 'sorry' looking culvert that acts to link the two truncated ends of the canal at this point.
NE view from Motorway Roundabout

Rochdale Canal
Heading NE away from the roundabout blockage, the Rochdale canal here suddenly becomes a haven for wildlife and plants.
Rochdale Junction

Rochdale Canal
Taken from near the bridge on Oldham Road (A671), this junction once saw the canal heading off northwards up towards the outskirts of Rochdale centre. Today this branch reaches only the first bridge it meets (as can just be seen at the top of the photo). The canal heads off to Manchester to the left and to Sowerby Bridge to the right.
Swans & Geese, Balderstone Stretch

Rochdale Canal
Swans and geese grace this particular stretch of the Rochdale canal as it plies its way NE towards the indistinctive concrete bridge on Will I'th Lane near Balderstone.
Clegg Hall Lane Bridge

Rochdale Canal
Lying between the industrial and residential districts of Rochdale and Littleborough, the canal passes through the more tranquil settings of the former hamlet of Little Clegg. Here can be seen a typical handsome stone bridge that takes 'Clegg Hall Road' over to the hamlet and to the now dilapidated Hall.
Clegg Hall

Rochdale Canal
Now dilapidating and just a shell, this former Hall nearer Little Clegg is nevertheless still striking in both its architecture and the stone used to build it.
Belfield Lane Bridge (N View)

Rochdale Canal
Looking north towards the pennines from the bridge just off Belfield Lane bridge, this disused stretch of the canal is a haven for both wildlife and water plants. Interestingly, Belfield is the town where Richard Townley - one of the first proponents of the Rochdale canal back in August 1766 - once lived.
Smithybridge Pub (Sign)

Rochdale Canal
A romantic view of by-gone canal days, depicted evocatively on the sign post for the Smithybridge pub close to the Rochdale canal (in Smithybridge).
Hollingworth Lake, nr Littleborough

Rochdale Canal
Now a centre for water sport enthusiasts and day trippers, the attractively situated Hollingworth lake was originally a feeder reservoir for the canal. The Pennines can be seen in the far distance.
Littleborough Lower Lock (View S)

Rochdale Canal
This lock - no 48 - is the furthest lock that currently can be reached on the Rochdale canal. Just further south beyond this lock, near the Waterside Inn, the B6225 main road cuts through the canal marking the current limit of navigation.
Littleborough Bottom Lock (View N)

Rochdale Canal
Heading northwards, the Rochdale canal starts out from Lock 48 here in Littleborough on its ascent through the pennines towards the highest locks at the summit (i.e. 36 and 37). The substantial design of the lock gates are clearly evident in this photo.
Ealees Rd Bridge, Littleborough

Rochdale Canal
This imposing stone bridge, lying north just beyond Littleborough Lower Locks, makes its presence felt through the distinctive architecture and building materials used in its construction.
Waterside Inn, Littleborough

Rochdale Canal
Cutting through the canal at this point, the B6225 main road marks the current limit of navigation of the Rochdale canal. Across the road lies the Waterside Inn, where Boddingtons and Flowers real ales are served together with a varied menu.
Pike House Lock

Rochdale Canal
Approximately halfway between Littleborough and the Summit lies Pike House Lock (no 45) and its attractive adjoining stone bridge.
Bridge, Pike House Lock

Rochdale Canal
An alternative view of Pike House Lock through the arches of its adjoining stone hump-backed bridge.
S from Timbercliffe Bridge, Nr Summit

Rochdale Canal
Heading south towards Littleborough, the canal is seen passing the imposing Courtaulds Mill as it descends through locks 41 and 42.
Top Lock (36), Summit

Rochdale Canal
At 601 feet above sea level, the pound just beyond Longlees Lock (no 36) represents the highest point of the canal. The attractive painted stone cottage, originally built for the Lock Keeper, appears to be guarding the lock in this enchanting - yet sometimes inhospitable - place.
Gate of Top Lock (36), Summit

Rochdale Canal
The marker appearing on the lock gate here reflects how the summit pound (to the right of the lock) was originally built to act itself as a reservoir for the canal. Originally the Rochdale Canal Company had 8 additional reservoirs, together supplying up to 4 million gallons per day in the canal's heyday.
View to Top Lock (36), Summit

Rochdale Canal
Looking south to the top lock at the Summit (i.e. Longlees no 36), two boats and a solitary fisherman make use of the canal at this point. With the rain falling, the hills surrounding the valley appear shrouded in clouds, imparting a still and mysterious atmosphere to this isolated place.
Pound at Top Lock (36), Summit

Rochdale Canal
Representing the highest point of the canal at 601 feet above sea level, this stretch of canal was built as a pound to act as a reservoir in itself. Interestingly, although no traces can now be seen, apparently a chemical and brick works once stood near this spot.
Fisherman nr Top Lock (36), Summit

Rochdale Canal
What a way to relax - fishing on the canal. Did you hear about the 'monster' that got away?
Lancs/Yorks Border, Warland

Rochdale Canal
Marking the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, this post sits alongside Warland Upper Lock (no 35), itself just north of the Summit. Close by, adjoining the A6033, is the Bird I'th Hand public house, a former coaching house serving Whitbread real ale.
Stream on Border, Warland

Rochdale Canal
The distinctive 'rust' colour of the stream arises from the acid peat moorland that surrounds this spot. The stream passes close by Warland Upper Lock (no 35), itself just north of the Summit.
Mile Post, Summit

Rochdale Canal
This modern, ornate, metal mile post marks the 13th mile of the canal on its outward journey from Sowerby Bridge. In that distance, the canal has already ascended through 34 locks (i.e. almost 3 per mile; in the 3 mile stretch from Todmorden, the canal ascends through 16 locks, representing around 5 locks per mile!) In the remaining 19 miles to Manchester, the canal will pass through a further 57 locks.
Todmorden Lock

Rochdale Canal
Also known as Library Lock, Todmorden Lock (no 19) is unusual in having a guillotine gate at its far (i.e. eastern) end. This is electrically operated, requiring a 'Watermate' key from British Waterways to access it.
Mile Post, Todmorden Lock

Rochdale Canal
This traditional, attractive, stone mile post marks the 10th mile of the canal on its outward journey from Sowerby Bridge. Having already passed through 18 locks to reach this spot, the canal will pass through a further 73 locks over 22 miles on its continuing journey to Manchester.
Todmorden Hall

Rochdale Canal
This distinguished building constructed from 'warm' coloured stone lies between Todmorden Railway Station and Library Lock on Hall Street. Todmorden is blessed with several attractive buildings, a reflection of the town's manufacturing success in the 19th century. One prominent architect, John Gibson of London, was commissioned by the wealthy Fielden family to design, among others, the Unitarian Church.
Cottages & Mill, Hebden Bridge

Rochdale Canal
Heading away from Stubbing Wharf, the canal heads east underneath Stubbing Brink Bridge and onwards through Stubbing Upper and Lower Locks (numbers 11 and 10) on its journey to Hebden Bridge town centre.
View of Valley, Hebden Bridge

Rochdale Canal
From Horsehold Road, this dramatic view of the Calder valley around Hebden Bridge reveals the many multi-storey cottages here that were once used for spinning. Also visible is the Manchester to Leeds railway line and, just below and running parallel to it, the Rochdale canal, the towing path of which can just be glimpsed.
Lock 1, Sowerby Bridge

Rochdale Canal
Looking west towards Sowerby Bridge town centre, the lock here marks the start of the Rochdale canal and its meeting point (at its easterly end) with the Calder & Hebble Navigation.
Warehouses at Lock 1, Sowerby Bridge

Rochdale Canal
Originally the terminus of the Calder & Hebble Navigation (C&HN), the warehouses here once provided over 3,600 square yards of storage, acting as a major transshipment point between the C&HN and the Rochdale canal.