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Bury Canal Society

Map of Salford ArmThe Three Arms

Nob End, Little Lever is the "centre" of the canal in that
the three arms radiate from this location. The Bolton and Bury Arms are all on one level – the summit (highest)
level and the water supply comes from the River Irwell
and feeds this summit, via Elton Reservoir.

Salford Arm
From Nob End the canal descended immediately
through six locks arranged as two staircases of three
with a passing pound between. At the bottom of these
locks the canal turns sharply to cross the River Irwell on Prestolee Aqueduct.

The canal is then cut into the hillside above the river
until the site of the two Ringley Locks is reached. Within
a mile there was a further pair of locks at Giant's Seat
and the lock house is still standing beside the upper
one. After a further mile there was an isolated lock at Rhodes.

The canal then continued, still beside the river, under the M60 crossing of the River Irwell, and shortly thereafter it turned sharply to cross the river once more – this time on Clifton Aqueduct. At the far end of the aqueduct there was a junction with the short Fletcher's Canal, the main line making a left turn to follow the right bank of the River Irwell.

The route of the canal then passes industrial areas towards Agecroft, the site of a former power station, now a prison, and after passing under the pipes of Thirlmere Aqueduct (Manchester's water supply) passes the former Agecroft Colliery site. The final two miles are completely filled in, eventually reaching the Salford University site and passing under The Crescent (A6) road.

Thereafter there were six locks although the top three locks were moved twice to allow railway building and widening. The final configuration was Lock 6, original terminal wharf, Locks 5 and 4 (staircase) at Oldfield Road, Salford No. 2 tunnel (under the railway), Salford No.1 tunnel, Lock 3 (East Ordsall Lane) staircase of Locks 2 and 1 into the River Irwell (opposite Granada Television). Locks 1 & 2 have been replaced by a new single deep lock leading into the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel under the Inner Relief Road to the River Irwell.

Bury Arm
Map of Bury ArmThe Bury arm remains high on the hillside above the
Irwell gorge, supported by massive retaining walls. This
led to numerous problems, principally the famous 1936 breach which closed much of the canal. After 200 yards
the path descends into the breach, as the towpath and
half the canal was swept into the valley below.

This arm has an almost complete set of quarter-
milestones, from 8 at Nob End to 11¾ at Elton; only two
are missing.

Beyond the next bridge a shed once stood on the line
of the canal, but the paper mill below has been demolished.  Shortly beyond the canal is again in
water, and remains in water to Elton. The next bridge
marks the site of Ladyshore Colliery, closed in 1949.

Next to milestone 9 is the steam crane which is the
Society’s logo, once used to lower goods into Mount
Sion Mill below.

After passing through more countryside the canal
enters Radcliffe, with several mills alongside. The canal
is blocked by the lowered Water Street Bridge,
but continues in water beyond.

The canal again follows a rural route towards Bury, with
an improved towpath surface. Elton Reservoir, the
canal’s water supply, is soon visible, after milestone 11¾
the canal is infilled. It originally went under Daisyfield Viaduct to the terminus at Bury Bridges.



Map of Bolton ArmBolton Arm
At Nob End are the remains of the former workshops of
the canal demolished as unsafe in 2012. Next there are
two canal cottages and the former canal manager’s
house; opposite is the imposing Wellfield House. From
Nob End the canal clings to the top of the hillside above
the River Croal, remaining on the level into Bolton.

Alongside milestone 8¼ is the overflow at Red Rocks,
with a double set of stop plank grooves. The
canal continues to the wide area at Top o’ th’ Lodge, formerly a boatyard and coal depot. Beyond more plank grooves is the wide ‘blue wall’ length of the canal, named after the blue brick wall which supports it.

At milestone 8¾ the canal ceases to be in water, but the route can be followed past the demolished Hall Lane and Fogg’s Aqueducts to Darcy Lever. Beyond, Damside Aqueduct once carried the canal over the River Croal,
but it was demolished in 1965.

Beyond the route can again be followed briefly, but the
final approach to Bolton has been obliterated by the
dual carriageway of St Peter’s Way (A666). The canal originally ended at Church Wharf, near Bolton Parish Church.

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