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The Liverpool to Manchester Railway

The Rocket

On 15th September 1830, the World’s first passenger railway opened to a large crowd waiting on Liverpool Road Manchester.

The first part of the project (June 1826) started with efforts to drain Chat Moss swamp close to the Bridgewater Canal and provide the 6.4km Chat Moss crossing – over the peat bog.

On the opening day a grand reception and banquet was laid on to celebrate the historic occasion. Eight trains set off from Liverpool along two tracks.  One stopped as the wheels came off the track. The train behind crashed into it and thus the world’s first passenger train crash occurred. Luckily there were no injuries.

Eventually both trains continued their journey. Half way to Manchester, they stopped as the engines needed water. The passengers were told to stay on the  trains, but many got off to stretch their legs. This included the MP William Huskisson unsteady and unnerved he stumbled into the track of Rocket passing from the other direction and was hit. He needed urgent medical attention, so a marching band on another train, who were meant to play in Manchester, were told to get off to allow the injured man to rush to Eccles for treatment.

Sadly Huskisson later died – the world’s first railway passenger death. The band were told to walk the 18 miles back to Liverpool.

The trains were mostly open carriages, full of lords, ladies & VIPs in their finest clothes. As the trains approached Eccles, the skies darkened & there was a huge downpour. The passengers got drenched.

At last they came into Manchester looking very bedraggled & distressed.  There were cheers to welcome them, but most of crowd were booing & jeering. The people of Manchester were unhappy. The Peterloo Massacre was still fresh in Mancunian memory & these trains were full of the lords & politicians who did not support parliamentary reform. The local military were trying to control the hostile crowd.

The PM, the Duke of Wellington, sensed the negative Mancunian mood and the hero of Waterloo decided to return to Liverpool. Salfordians who lined the track and bridges, added to the damp passengers misery by pelting the open carriages with all manner of filth along the way. The trains had to stop to clear a wheel-barrow off the track. This was a radical act of railway vandalism.

Where the incline was too much for Rocket and her carriageway, passengers had to get out and walk as the trains struggled. However, these passengers were way better off than the military band who were later seen still miserably trudging alongside the track in the dark as the train passed them.

When they all finally arrived back in Liverpool, the passengers were tired and miserable. The grand ball was cancelled and Wellington swore he would never travel by train ever again. 

Mancunians and Salfordians had played their small part in making sure the day did not go to plan, but the railways would soon come to play an enormous role in the development and histories of Manchester, Salford and the industrial revolution.

On 17th September 1830, the Liverpool & Manchester Railway welcomed the first paying passengers. Freight transport began on 1st December 1830. The whole line was constructed for £739,165 less than the original estimate of £796,246. It necessitated some 2.3 million cubic meters of excavation a feat of engineering and technology in itself.

Alexandra Fairclough

Image Nick-D, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Emma Fox

Emma Fox

Emma Fox is a born and bred Mancunian who loves sharing stories and insider knowledge about her home city. She studied European Studies, including history, international relations and German and has lived in Berlin and Vienna. Emma spricht Deutsch.

Emma is an official tour guide for Manchester, the Bridgewater Canal in Salford and a trainee guide for North Wales. She is very much looking forward to the RHS Bridgewater Gardens opening in summer 2021, and hopes to show visitors what other gardens, heritage and cultural offerings there are nearby.

Since 2009 she has enjoyed meeting people from all around the world and bringing historical and modern Manchester to life. Each tour is unique but specialisms include industrial heritage the Scuttlers and Victorian slums, radical ideas, arts, sports, architecture, literature cotton and slavery, Factory Records, Southern Cemetery, Manchester bees, Worsley and the Bridgewater Canal gardens and green spaces.

She has been described in reviews as vivacious, knowledgeable, accomplished and engaging.

Emma Fox
Emma Fox

Emma Fox
07500 774200
@showmemcr on social media

Mark Charnley

Mark Charnley

I have lived in Eccles all my life and becoming a Bridgewater Guide has given me the opportunity to share the stories and history of the area to locals and visitors.

A former railwayman for over 30 years I acquired a detailed knowledge on the area and its links not only to the railways but to coal mining and beyond.

The Bridgewater Canal and the wider Salford Metropolitan Borough area have a rich history and this has inspired me to become a guide so that I can pass on our important past and hopefully inspire others to enjoy our rich heritage.

As one of a group of local Green Badge Guides I help provide regular tours along the Bridgewater Canal and also other areas of Salford. Our group can also do private tailored tours covering specific aspects of our local heritage.

Mark Charnley
Mark Charnley

Mark Charnley
07884 121021
Facebook – Markwcharnley
Twitter – Markwcharnley

Right Royal Ramble – 2023

Book a tour

Back by popular demand for 2023 – Ramble your way through the royal history in and around The Bridgewater Canal and Worsley

Join Green Badge Guide Royston Futter and, in your imagination, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, The Duke of Wellington and various other Royals and Luminaries who visited Worsley New Hall and the Bridgewater Canal in their heyday.

The circular guided tour, taking in the magnificent gates shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition, St Marks Churchyard, Worsley Delph and The Bridgewater Canal starts and ends in the carpark of RHS Bridgewater so you can visit the garden and have refreshments before or after the walk.

Please see Eventbrite for available dates.

Start 2pm – tour will last approx 2 ½ hrs (Distance around 4.5miles – generally flat but moderate uphill walk back towards the gardens.)

Tour Dates:

Sunday 14th May, 9th July, 3rd September & 5th Nov 2023

Adults £13 plus booking fee

For children under 12 use promo code CHILD – price £6 plus fee.

Booking essential

Elizabeth Charnley

Elizabeth Charnley

Born in Bury, Lancashire, I now live in Eccles.

As a Green Badge Guide for the Bridgewater Canal in Salford, I feel perfectly at home in the canal environment, having grown up living close to the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal.

The Bridgewater Canal in Salford is diverse, beautiful, historical and modern at the same time.

I love telling my guests stories of its people (famous & not so famous,) places, neighbourhood areas and unique treasures such as the Barton Swing Aqueduct & Worsley Delph.

I am happy to guide groups on walking tours, bike tours and Nordic Walking tours combining a guided tour with a workout. I can also do a guided tour commentary for your boat trip along the Bridgewater Canal

My specialties are guiding children & families, school groups and those with walking or sensory disabilities. I am also available to give illustrated talks and lectures about the Bridgewater Canal to groups of all ages and interests.

Before qualifying as a tourist guide I worked in the NHS, initially as a pharmacy technician and later as a manager. I still work for the NHS, but now as a volunteer community first responder with the North West Ambulance Service.

I look forward to welcoming you on a tour soon.

Elizabeth Charnley
Elizabeth Charnley

Elizabeth Charnley
Tel: 07979 232817

Coal, Canal & Cake – Dates now available for 2024!

Book a Tour

2nd Saturday of each month – 2pm 14:00 – 16:30 approx.

Join us for a tour exploring the history of the Bridgewater Canal in Salford and the hidden clues of its link to the coal deep in seams underground. 

Worsley Village was once the hub of a thriving industry built upon the coal belonging to the Duke of Bridgewater in the 18th Century.  

His life’s work centred around how to make the transport of coal from his land to the growing city of Manchester possible and most importantly profitable!

We follow the path of history and heritage from the Duke and his canal to his descendant the Earl of Ellesmere and his own personal project, St Mark’s Church. A grade 1 listed building designed by the eminent architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. 

We finish the walk with included cake and refreshments to digest the incredible changes to industrial Britain, which can in part be credited to the ingenuity of the Duke, his workers and those that followed in his footsteps. 

Please note visits to St Mark’s Church may be limited on certain dates according to the church events schedule.

Booking Essential – please message us with any dietary requirements

Alexandra Fairclough

Alexandra Fairclough

Known also by the name Alexatours, I am a local lass with a great passion for heritage. I offer tours on all aspects of cultural heritage and history. I provide public and bespoke tours of this fascinating area – ‘the cradle of the Industrial Revolution’.

In addition to tours, I do talks and lectures at educational establishments, religious and historical sites, museums, Stately Homes and at venues of other significant interest. If you are looking for a fun-fact educational tour or walk for coach or walking groups of all ages, let me share my passion for local history, the arts, politics and our industrial past.

I am a member of Manchester Guided Tours & Cumbria Guides as well as Bridgewater Canal Guided Tours. (I also do tour management and bespoke architectural & World War tours of the UK & France by arrangement)
Tel 07956 226699
FB @bricksandwatertours
Twitter @Bricks_andwater

David Barnes

David Barnes

I have lived in Greater Manchester since 1989, having moved north deliberately in search of the landscapes I saw on so many early 1960s films (especially the views from the moors). I have not been disappointed, it is a great place to work, rest and play, as they say.

The Bridgewater Canal and its environs in the city of Salford in particular offer many places that illustrate the heritage, the arts and the wonderful greenscape.

I want to help people explore these areas so we can all learn and create together a new experience of a unique area in the world and can offer a range of guided walks to do this. If you would like to discuss with me your specific requirements then please do get in touch.

David Barnes
David Barnes

David Barnes
07961 535163

Chat Moss, the Bridgewater Canal and the Industrial Revolution

Chat Moss has an almost mythical character yet is very much a living landscape. Its mythical roots come from its origins 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age. Daniel Defoe’s description of the area as frightful in 1724 during his tour of Britain contributed to this sense of a land beyond civilisation. He could not imagine what nature meant by the production of such a waste land.

The Manchester to Liverpool railway line crossed Chat Moss in the early 19th century, commencing the Railway Mania. The northern border of the Moss is marked by the Bridgewater Canal which ushered in the age of Canal Mania years before the Railways took over.

If you open John Aikin’s Description of the country for Thirty to Forty Miles around Manchester (1795) you very quickly encounter a map of the northwest of England and a striking feature of that map is the number of canals on that map. The engineering wonders that were created with the canals generated fantastic images that Aikin evokes as,

the extraordinary sight, never before beheld in this country, of one vessel, sailing over the top of another; and those who had at first ridiculed the attempt, as equivalent to building a castle in the air, were obliged to join in admiration of the wonderful abilities of the engineer (p.114).

This was at Barton upon Irwell where James Brindley built the first aqueduct for the Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell, on the eastern edge of Chat Moss. It enabled Brindley to plot a better route to Runcorn and the Mersey avoiding the original idea of taking the canal across Chat Moss.

Northwest England has a significant landscape heritage of peat bogs and Chat Moss is a key recovering element of that landscape. Little Woolden Moss is part of Chat Moss; it is now owned and is being restored by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. If you look north across Little Woolden Moss on a clear day you can see an apparently uninterrupted greenscape leading up Winter Hill part of the West Pennines. Chat Moss is a lowland peat moss and much of the West Pennines is upland peat moss.

These mosslands began to form about 10,000 years ago during the last ice age when peat began to be laid down on marine, estuarine or fluvial deposits adjacent to estuaries, on river floodplains, or on the site of shallow glacial lakes. These wet, waterlogged areas were originally colonised by reeds and rushes. When this plant material died it could not be fully broken down and this led to the formation of fen peat. Then bog mosses (Sphagnum mosses) began to colonise and changed the underlying peat from fen to bog peat. As the peat accumulated, the surface of the bog was elevated above the surrounding land, forming a dome, hence often these are known as raised bogs.

Chat Moss has a rich industrial heritage also, it was used historically as a waste disposal site for Manchester. The waste was a mixture of organic and mineral wastes, ranging from manures to steelworks waste. Chat Moss was purchased by the Manchester Corporation in 1895 for use as a waste disposal site to alleviate growing waste generation by the city population, but also to reclaim the peat for agricultural purposes. During drainage, the waste from Manchester was incorporated into the moss to reduce loss of soil volume as the peat dried out. The earliest waste used was nightsoil, which was mainly ashes mixed with the contents of privies.

Since the mid-19th century, the area of lowland raised bog in the UK has fallen by 94% from 95,000 ha to 6,000 ha. Chat Moss has in that period been industrially mined for peat for fuel and as an agricultural and garden product. This extraction of moss only ended on Little Woolden Moss in 2017 but fortunately that area is now being actively restored as a peat moss by the wildlife trust.

If you are interested in learning more about Chat Moss then contact Bridgewater Green Badge Guide – David Barnes Tel: 07961 535163