Beneath The City's Streets - Exploring The Canals of Manchester - October 25th


Reporters: Bill Matthews and Carol Sencicle

A cheerful group of 29 members met at Deansgate station in Manchester anticipating an interesting walk under the streets of Manchester followed by a meal in China Town.

The walk leader was a chap called Don ably assisted by Gloria. They had both spent about forty years campaigning for the canals around Manchester to be kept in the best order for walkers to enjoy the freedom of walking throughout the whole network without any obstruction. They have helped to save valuable landmarks, build new bridges and remove obstructions. As you can imagine their knowledge is extensive and they gave a very informative commentary during the walk.

The walk kept mostly away from the streets of Manchester that you would all recognise and opened up a whole new world that most people would not believe exists. On the two and a half mile figure of eight walk we went under many streets familiar to you all including Deansgate, Whitworth Street, Princess Street, Mosley Street and Piccadilly.

From Deansgate we walked along the Rochdale canal into the Castle Field canal basin where there are lots of restaurants. The water for the canal comes from the river Medlock. You can walk from here along the Rochdale canal to the Pennine way via 92 locks. Still on the Rochdale canal we walked past the site of the Hacienda building (now demolished) where there are tributes to several rock groups who had played there.

Past the turn off to the Ashton canal adjacent to the Dale Street basin is the Triumph Arch - now an historic monument. At one stage this Arch was going to be demolished but Don personally negotiated with the council to save it. Next to the Arch is a grocer's storage building which was used to store goods from the canal until they could be taken out to the shops. The connection to the Manchester and Salford canal became a white elephant connection and so has been closed off. An interesting fact is that the Cheshire ring actually includes part of the Manchester canals.

We then walked a little way from the canal to view some modern painted residential buildings one called chips because it looks like a pile of chips! Then back to the canal where we passed a row of three 18th century lock keepers cottages in amazing condition. We then made our way back to the centre of Manchester.

We were all ready for our meal when we arrived at the restaurant that was full of Chinese families except for our party - a good sign of the food to come. The meal was mainly a very wide selection of dim-sums but also an unusual rice dish. Even the desserts were dim-sums. Most of us had never had Chinese food like this.

At the end of the meal everyone agreed that this event should be repeated next year. Don, the walk leader suggested maybe a walk around the historic buildings of Manchester might be of interest to us. Our thanks go to Barry Lewis who was the organiser and also to Ian Harford who helped.