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 Locks 1 & 2 have been replaced by a new single deep lock leading into the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel under the Inner Relief Road to the River Irwell.

Lock 1 and the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel
The left picture, taken in 1905, shows a full Lock 1 with Bloody Bridge and Princes Bridge beyond. The right picture is essentially the same view, but after the 2008 restoration. Locks 1 & 2 have been converted into a tunnel under the Inner Relief Road.

Tunnel No 1 and the Winding Hole
The left picture, taken in 1954, shows Tunnel No 1 and the industrial premises. The right photo is essentially the same view today; the people on the bank in both pictures are in almost the same position. The restored canal ends at the new ‘winding hole’ which enables full-length boats to turn round. Just beyond is the narrow stretch which was originally Lock 4, and later Tunnel No 1. The Beetham Tower looms over the scene.

Clifton Aqueduct
The aqueduct was a popular place for Sunday walks, as seen in this 1908 photograph. Beyond a wharf the canal turns sharply left to follow the east bank of the River Irwell. Although the aqueduct is still intact, it has been dry for many years.

Giant’s Seat Lock House
There were two locks at Giant’s Seat; the pictures show the lock house which still stands by the upper lock. Both locks are infilled, though traces of the upper lock are just visible in the grass. The lock house is the only one surviving on the canal, built in the mid-nineteenth century, though it has been extended. The path to the right of the wire fence is still a public right of way, though often difficult of access at either end.

Ringley Locks
The left picture is a particular favourite, showing the derelict lock house, and two boys on their bikes wearing caps, probably taken in the early 1950s before the lock house was demolished. The right picture is a painting of the top lock and lock house.

Appleyard Bridge
The old wooden bridge was replaced by Bolton Council by a new concrete and brick bridge in 1998; the Canal Society lobbied to have it rebuilt to full navigable standards, rather than the canal culverted and the road being dropped. It carries the unadopted Prestolee Road across the canal. Note the thin sandstone slabs forming the boundary wall.

Find out about other areas of the canal: