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A Brief History of the Trent & Mersey Canal

The Trent & Mersey canal was built in the late 1700's and was fully opened in May 1777. It is over 90 miles long and links the river Trent below Shardlow with the Bridgewater Canal at Preston Brook.

The engineer on the project was James Brindley. Also involved was Josiah Wedgewood who saw the canal as the ideal mode of transport for his wares. He built his new factory on the banks of the canal at Etruria and a house that overlooked both factory and canal. It was his involvement that led to the route of the canal taking in the potteries.

The longest tunnel on the canal, the Harecastle Tunnel, is about two miles in length. The original tunnel had sufficient width for only one craft, thus causing delays. To avoid these delays, a second tunnel was built by Thomas Telford and, for many years, the two tunnels operated in tandem on a one-way system.

The other feature of note on the canal is the Anderton Boat Lift which was built in 1875 to connect the canal with the Weaver navigation, fifty feet below. The lift has recently re-opened after restoration.

Although built for commercial traffic, it is due to leisure use that the canal still exists today (a fact that applies to almost all our canals). The Trent & Mersey Canal Society was formed in 1974 and its benefits to the canal have been many (see the links page). Without the TMCS, it is unlikely that the mileposts would be there today.