Bury Arm

The 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.



Steam Crane
The iconic steam crane at Mount Sion, used as the Canal Society’s logo, was made in Leeds in about 1884. It was used to transfer coal from the canal to the former bleach works below. The mill now produces specialist pulps, and it owns the crane. The crane is a listed structure, and is in need of some restoration, but the problems are difficult. At least the Society has painted it in protective paint. Fred Dibnah was Honorary President of the Canal Society for several years until his death in 2004. The working parts of the crane are in reasonable condition, but the real problem is that the bottom of the vertical boiler has corroded, so that you can see right through! We had always hoped that Fred might repair it!

Whittaker’s Bridge
There are three bridges close together here; the first and last were railway bridges, but this middle bridge was an occupation bridge built in the 1870s to replace a bridge on the site of the first railway bridge. As part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail it now has an installation by the New York conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, created in 2005; in red paint it bears the words WATER MADE IT WET.

Daisyfield Viaduct
The viaduct carried the Bolton to Bury railway line of 1845 over Wellington Street, the canal and the River Irwell. The left picture was taken in 1968, showing New Victoria Mills and Elton Paper Mill through the arch. Since then the canal has been infilled, but its route is still clear, though now part of the Fire & Rescue Service training centre.

Find out about other areas of the canal: