Hulme Locks Branch Canal

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Hulme Locks Branch Canal
Hulme Locks 2414.JPG
The Hulme Locks at the Bridgewater Canal end
Locks 2
Status Closed
Date of first use 1839
Date closed 1995
Connects to Mersey and Irwell Navigation

The Hulme Locks Branch Canal is a canal in the city of Manchester. It is 200m (one furlong) in length and was built to provide a direct waterway between the Mersey and Irwell Navigation and the Bridgewater Canal. The canal opened in 1838 and was superseded in 1995 by a new lock at Pomona Dock 3. As both of its locks remain closed, the canal is now overgrown.


The lack of any direct canal link between the Mersey and Irwell Navigation (M&IN) and the Rochdale Canal meant that goods being transported using both waterways had to be offloaded onto carts and carried across the city, before being loaded back onto boats to continue their journey. This was costly and time-consuming, as well as adding to traffic congestion on the streets of Manchester.

In 1799 the nearby Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal company (MB&B) proposed to connect their canal[1] to the Rochdale canal with an aqueduct across the M&IN. Due mainly to strong objections from the M&IN, who would have suffered a loss of trade, the link was not forthcoming.[2] In 1805, John Nightingale was asked by the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Company to estimate the cost of a canal link between Manchester and Salford. Nothing would happen until 1836, when John Gilbert was appointed as engineer.

The Bridgewater Canal Company sensing potential loss of trade cut the short Hulme Locks Branch Canal connecting their canal to the River Irwell. The following year the M&IN completed the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal. This provided an alternative route from the Rochdale Canal to the River Irwell, and cargoes from either direction could navigate onto the Irwell using the junction canal or Hulme Locks.

The Hulme Locks at the River Medlock and Irwell end
Hulme Locks Branch Canal map
Bridgewater Canal
Rail and Metrolink
River Medlock
Junction with River Irwell


The canals were constructed just as railways were becoming popular. In later years, both the Bridgewater and Rochdale canals came to be owned by the Manchester Ship Canal Company, removing the competitive incentive for keeping both canals open and the Junction Canal was abandoned in 1922. Hulme Locks Branch Canal was used until 1995, when a new lock was provided at Pomona Docks (Dock 3), and this branch canal is now overgrown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ At this time the MB&BC was still under construction, and did not connect to the River Irwell until 1805. It terminated at Oldfield Road in Salford
  2. ^ Hadfield 1970, pp. 251–252.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°28′N 2°16′W / 53.47°N 2.26°W / 53.47; -2.26