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14 July 2011

250th Anniversary of the Bridgewater Canal

This year sees the Bridgewater Canal celebrate its 250th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, a number of events are taking place at various destinations along the Bridgewater Canal. 

A limited number of commemorative coins have been produced by the Bridgewater Canal Company, part of The Peel Group to mark this very special occasion as well as a number of Bridgewater Canal 250th Anniversary - themed balloons, sweets, flags and lengths of bunting. The Peel Group has also sponsored a number of events including the Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs Rally which was held at the Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn over the May Bank Holiday Weekend and the Concert on the Green which has been organised by the Worsley Village Community Association and will take place on 30th July 2011. 

A book about the Duke of Bridgewater and the Bridgewater Canal has been written by John Aldred to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Canal. The book details the history of the Duke of Bridgewater as well as the construction of the Bridgewater Canal. 

The Bridgewater Canal opened on the 17th July 1761 and was constructed to transport the Duke of Bridgewater's coal from his mine at Worsley. Coal was needed in large quantities to fuel the industrial revolution, the canal enabled coal and other goods to be transported efficiently and cheaply to the rapidly expanding towns and cities. 

The Bridgewater Canal has throughout its long history been successful, first as a commercial waterway and latterly following cessation of freight in 1974 as a leisure waterway. 

The 65km (39 mile) broad beam canal is the strategic link between the North and South canal network stretching from Runcorn to Leigh. The first section of the canal crossed the River Irwell by means of a unique stone aqueduct constructed over the river Irwell, later replaced by the equally famous Barton Swing aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal. 

In its heyday the canal carried more than 3 million tonnes of traffic, today it forms part of the popular boat cruising route known as the Cheshire Ring. The Bridgewater connects with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Preston Brook, Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Leigh, The Rochdale Canal and The Manchester Ship Canal in Manchester. 

Mike Webb, Bridgewater Canal Manager said, “The Bridgewater Canal celebrates its 250th anniversary of its opening on the 17th July 2011. As the canal owners, The Peel Group is proud to be part of this special year for the Bridgewater Canal and hope that you will join with us in celebrating this unique occasion. The Bridgewater Canal is a valuable amenity to the communities through which it passes. It is up to us all to ensure that we look after this wonderful asset so that future generations can continue to enjoy this solution to transport in the 18th Century, and today as a leisure opportunity for all.” 

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