Friday, May 23, 2014

Unveiling of Stockport Canal Plaques

Wednesday May 28th saw the unveiling of two plaques marking the line of the Stockport Branch of the Manchester and Ashton-Under-Lyne Canal, known locally as the ‘Lanky Cut’. The first at 2pm was at the side of Nelstrop’s flour mill, Albion Mill at the top of Lancashire Hill. The second at 2.30 was at North Reddish Park Community Centre. The plaques were unveiled by the Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Chris Murphy and his wife Dot and in attendance was Peter Scott of the Manchester & Stockport Canal Society and other dignitaries.
Also present at Albion Mill was one of the directors of the mill.

Unlike the blue plaques around Stockport which are round, the two unveiled are green and oblong in appearance.

Plaque at Albion Mill
The canal was an important trading route into Stockport and its terminus was at the top of Lancashire Hill beyond the mill, where there was a coal wharf and other businesses. Unfortunately it fell into disuse and like so many other canals it became derelict and in 1971 it was filled in.

Over the years the potential for use of the canals for leisure purposes was realised and many were restored by engineers and enthusiasts alike. Most notably locally is the Peak Forest Canal and the branch from Marple to Macclesfield. More recently the Huddersfield and the Rochdale Canals were restored to navigation and along with the Cheshire Ring opening up new routes popular with narrow boat owners with the potential for going further afield all over the country, and the canals are popular with other users such as walkers, cyclists and anglers alike. Unfortunately this popularity came too late for the ‘Lanky Cut’ and what could have been a useful amenity for local people was lost and largely built over in places. The Huddersfield Canal had been built over where it went through Stalybridge and there was a proposal to divert the route via the River Tame and rejoin the original route further along. This was rejected however, and buildings on the original route were demolished. Where the Rochdale went through Failsworth a CO-OP supermarket built over the canal was demolished and rebuilt and the canal and a new basin constructed.

The aim of the Manchester and Stockport Canal Society is to bring back the canal which should never have been lost, and you can look at the society’s web site by typing in Stockport Canal in the address bar of the computer. Anyone can also become a member of the society and receive news about forthcoming events and activities.  Someone once called them a ‘bunch of dreamers’. Looking at the Huddersfield and Rochdale canals shows what can be done if we dare to dream. However, bringing the Stockport Canal back may be a nightmare for some along its route!