Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sankey Brook Canal

Living in Liverpool my nearest canal is obviously the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and its my favourite. But there is another canal nearby and one I have never visited, the Sankey Brook or St Helens Canal. The Sankey Canal first opened in 1757 linking St Helens with the River Mersey along the valley of the Sankey Brook. It was built to serve the chemical industries in the area. The canal included branches and extensions at both ends. It was one of these extensions I visited this weekend. In 1830 an Act was passed to extend the canal to the River Mersey at Widnes, this extension opened in 1833. There were plans to build an aqueduct across the Mersey linking the Sankey Brook Canal with the Bridgewater. There were also plans to link the canal to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Leigh. So far these plans have not been implemented. 
Widnes Wharf is close to the Runcorn Widnes Bridge, next to the Catalyst Museum. There is a car park at the museum and one by the boatyard. The cars in the boatyard car park were covered in sunbathing pigeons. It looked like something from a Hitchcock film. I parked up in the museum car park and had some lunch. There was a circus here so it was quite busy. 
At Widnes Wharf there were originally 3 locks on to the river, two on to the canal and one into a basin which served a railway. Today only one of these locks is still in use. I took some photos on my phone, with the thrilling risk of dropping it into the muddy edge of the River Mersey. I had a look at the locks and then walked up the canal to the first bridge and then crossed it and followed the path back round in a circle to the locks again. I ate some reduced price grapes as I did so. The area is popular for people wanting a walk, and the basin is used for fishing. 
One of the main reasons for the visit was to see if the canal was a possible cycle route for me, there did seem to be a lot of cyclists about so it is something I will look into at some point. Having a quick look, this route looks promising
Disused Canal-River Lock

Canal-River Lock at Widnes

Former Entrance to Basin

Basin, along the line of the former lock from the River Mersey

The three locks from the River

The River Lock at Widnes

Swans on the Sankey

The first bridge on the Sankey Brook Canal at Widnes

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