Macclesfield Canal brought trade in Bollington to life, providing
for the first time a means of getting raw materials into the town
and finished products out in bulk and quickly - only a one day
journey to/from Manchester. It also provided the incentive to build
the two great mills on its banks, Clarence and Adelphi.
The first sod was cut at Bollington, though we don't know where,
but probably at Bollington Wharf on Grimshaw
opposite Adelphi Mill, in 1825. The canal was finally opened in
November 1831 after the difficulties of its construction at Bollington,
with the completion of the huge Palmerston Street embankment and
aqueduct (left), the two largest, and most troublesome, engineering
structures on the entire canal.
Bollington mill owner Philip Antrobus at
the time owned the house known as Rookery.
The schedule to an 1832 Act of Parliament relating to Antrobus's
Will shows that Rookery was leased to 'Willm Crossley'.
It is thought that this was probably the same William Crosley (with
one s) who was the engineer to the Macclesfield Canal Company -
the chap in charge of construction of the canal. This probability
is confirmed by items in The New Monthly Magazine 1833
and the Gloucester Journal 27th October 1832 which refer
to Crossley as residing at Bollington.
Crosley's name is usually
spelt with one s, as it is throughout the Macclesfield Canal
Company's minutes and other documents. However, the Macclesfield
Canal Society historian and archivist, Graham Cousins, has discovered
a document signed by Crossley with two ss. So you pay's your money
and take's your choice!
The embankment beside Palmerston Street aqueduct, pictured above
is quite unique in its construction. It is built entirely of rock,
the most readily available material around here. There is no other
on the British waterway network like it. Most embankments are built
mainly of earth, often that which has been excavated from nearby
cuttings. Earth embankments tend to have flatter profiles with
a maximum slope of 2:1 (33%). Building with rock enables a steeper
sided profile and ours is 1:1 (50% or 45deg). There is one small
section - in the bottom left corner of the picture - that has additional
material piled on. This is thought to have been required as a result
of spreading during construction. The ground beneath was very soft
and while one would expect that the soft material under the embankment
was removed down to rock level the ground fell away towards the
Gnathole (original name for the recreation ground) so leaving that
side without adequate support.
River Dean Tunnel
And there is a further unusual feature associated with the canal
at this point. The River Dean naturally flows through this valley.
If you imagine the valley at this point without the canal embankment
or aqueduct you will realise that it is a very narrow gap between
the hills on either side. Originally the river passed this gap
and spread out in the field that is now the recreation ground.
All the surrounding ground was very boggy, not at all suitable
for building such a huge structure across the valley.
The solution was to remove the river and drain and dry out the
ground. The only way to do this was to move the river onto a new
course and put it through a tunnel. This runs from behind the first
few cottages in Water Street, under the canal, under Palmerston
Street and exiting in the recreation ground.
The 'Bollington Burst'
On 29th February 1912 there was a very serious breach of the canal
at Kerridge almost opposite the wharf and dry dock. This
event is fully described on another page.
A beautiful model has been made by Keith Scammell of the wharf
at Kerridge as it is believed to have been in about 1870. Have
a look at this on another page.
More information on the canal
Full details of the canal today can be found at the Macclesfield Canal web site. That site includes extensive historical information.