Stockport Branch Canal (1)

The Stockport Branch of the Manchester and Ashton Canal, now infilled, ran from Clayton, Manchester to Lancashire Hill, Stockport.

The Stockport Branch was opened in 1797 as an afterthough to the Manchester, Ashton under Lyne and Oldham Canal system, in order to transport coal from the collieries in the Ashton and Oldham area to Stockport.

The canal was just over 4 miles long with no locks. Its route took it through Openshaw, Gorton, Debdale Park and Reddish to a wharf and warehouse complex at Lancashire Hill, to the north of Stockport town centre.

Stockport Branch Canal entrance
The entrance to the former Stockport Branch, between Locks 10 and 11 of the Ashton Canal in Clayton.

The original plan for the canal included a branch, known as the Beat Bank Branch, to run east from Reddish to the colliery at Beat Bank near Haughton Green. This branch was abandonned in 1798 when still only partly built.

The last commercial journeys were made in the 1930s and the canal was left to deteriorate. During the 1960s and 70s the canal was filled in and some part of it has been turned into a landscaped walkway.

In 2004 a society was formed to promote the restoration of the Stockport Branch. The section within Manchester (between Clayton and Debdale Park) would be comparatively easy to restore. The section through Reddish to Stockport presents greater difficulty, with some sections built over.

Stockport Branch Canal entrance
Only the first few yards of the Stockport Branch are still in water!
Stockport Branch Canal entrance
Looking back to the junction with the Ashton Canal.
Stockport Branch Canal
The line of the canal is landscaped as it passes between a police depot and an housing estate.
Stockport Branch Canal
For a short way there are houses on both sides.
Ashton Old Road, Stockport Branch Cana
The bridge is still intact where the A635 Ashton Old Road crosses. Openshaw Mill once stood alongside the canal to the left. The bridge is inappropriately still called Packhorse Bridge.
Stockport Branch Canal
South of Ashton Old Road, the site of an old boiler works is a wide grassy area. The path dollows the route of the canal.
Crabcroft Bridge, Stockport Branch Canal
A short distance to the south, Crabcroft Bridge carries Ogden Street across the canal line.
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