Canal history

Rochdale Canal lock. The Waterways Trust Archive (Ellesmere Port) / The Waterways TrustRochdale Canal lock. The Waterways Trust Archive (Ellesmere Port) / The Waterways Trust

The canal in figures

The Rochdale Canal is just over 32 miles (52km) long, with over 100 bridges, 2 major aqueducts and only 2 short tunnels. When it was built there were 92 locks – 36 climbing 350ft (107m) on the eastern side, and 56 climbing 520ft (160m) on the western side of the Pennines, reaching the Summit pound at 600 ft (182m) above sea level.

The Rochdale Canal was built as a ‘broad’ canal, with a lock size of 74ft X 14ft (22.5mX4.25m).

A lot of water was needed to keep the canal open, and this meant the building of 8 reservoirs, including Hollingworth Lake, and over 20 miles of drainage works.

The total cost was around £600,000 – the equivalent of over £20 million in 2011.

It was the first canal to cross the Pennines, followed in 1811 by the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and in 1816 by the Leeds and Liverpool.