Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canal at Worsley.

Brief Introduction.

Most people are probably unaware of the fact that beneath Worsley and Walkden, near Manchester, there still exist miles of underground canal, a legacy of the area's industrial past.

The Underground Canal or "Navigable Level" as it was known, starts at the Delph at Worsley and runs north westward under Walkden and Little Hulton to Dixon Green. The four levels and numerous side branches give a total length of almost 52 miles. Work started in 1759, small teams of miners cutting the rock by hand, with pick, shovel, hammer and drill. By 1770 they had reached Walkden and Buckley Lane by 1801. For many years over 100,000 tons of coal a year were brought out through the underground canal, and it continued to be used for this purpose until 1887. It then served as a drainage mechanism, water being pumped into it from the mine workings until the closure of the last pit in the area, Mosley Common, in 1968, made it redundant.

Ann Monaghan - LifeTimes Outreach Officer, Salford 1999.

The Closure of the Underground Canal.

With the exception of the recent inspection in 1999, the last sailing along the underground canal system was from the Ellesmere Pit, opposite the Pembroke Hall in Walkden, to Worsley Delph. It took place on the 28th September 1968. The last person to see the canal at the Ellesmere Pit was John (Jack) Harrison of the National Coal Board, as it then was. He was also the last person to come up in the cage before the start of work to fill the shafts.


All concrete stoppings were completed on the 10th October and the last day of pumping from the pits into the canal was the 11th October 1968. The filling in of the main mining shaft (No 2) was completed on the 11th November 1968.

John Aldred

PS .......... I just HAD to add this picture to the web page ...... "The tunnels have not been entered since 1968" ......... Yeah right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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