Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map

My February map updates included an increase in the routes covered, with the addition of a map covering the Hollinwood Canal and the Stockport Canal.

Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals
Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals

Some might consider these to be called the Hollinwood Branch Canal and the Stockport Branch Canal and both to be branches of the Ashton Canal, but I’m using the shorter name they are gradually becoming known by.

The map includes the Fairbottom Branch of the Hollinwood Canal, and the Werneth Branch Canal, a stand alone canal, despite the “Branch” in the title which is often mistaken for a branch of the Hollinwood Canal.

Restoration of most of the Hollinwood Canal looks possible, excluding the most northern section after the motorway, but a link to the Rochdale Canal looks possible instead.

Restoration of the Stockport Canal might be possible for the northern half of the route but the southern part (within Stockport) looks unlikely as the route is blocked by too many developments and, regrettably, some of these seem very recent.

Extract from Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map
Extract from Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map

The Hollinwood and Stockport Canal Maps are free to download, as are all the maps for canal restoration projects, and available in both Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.  They are included in the England & Wales Canal Maps from the February 2016 issue onwards.

Hollinwood Canal – Route

The Hollinwood Canal is derelict and navigation is no longer possible.  It ran to the east of Manchester, heading generally northwards from the Ashton Canal at Fairfield Junction.

The Fairbottom Branch ran to the east and the separate Werneth Branch Canal extended the route to the north.

Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals
Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals

The Hollinwood Canal initially runs through urban areas, then through open countryside until it returning to an urban environment as it reaches Hollinwood.

Key Features (when the canal was open)

Kilometers Miles Locks Bridges Hours
Fairfield Junction – Whitehouses (Fairbottom) Junction
4.2 2.6 4 3 2.0
Whitehouses (Fairbottom) Junction – Junction with Werneth Branch Canal
3.3 2.1 4 0 1.5
Junction with Werneth Branch Canal – End of Werneth Branch Canal
0.7 0.4 0 0 0.5
TOTAL (including Werneth Branch Canal)
8.2 5.1 8 3 4.0
NOTE: Bridges figures are for opening bridges (lift, swing etc.) which are normally closed across the navigation and low enough to require opening for a narrowboat.

Hollinwood Canal – History

The Manchester & Ashton Under Lyne Canal, now know simply as the Ashton Canal, ran east from Manchester to Ashton Under Lyne.  The Stockport Branch Canal linked the canal to Stockport.

The Hollinwood Branch Canal, usually known today as the Hollinwood Canal, was opened in 1797, running generally northwards from Fairfield Junction in Droylsden to Hollinwood and was built to serve the Lancashire Coalfields along the route.  The Fairbottom Branch was constructed to serve further collieries, leaving the main line at Waterhouses, or Fairbottom, Junction.

Waterhouses Staircase Locks 20/21
Waterhouses Staircase Locks 20/21

There were proposals to provide a link to the Rochdale Canal near Hollinwood but these were never progressed.

By 1948 the Fairbottom Branch was un-navigable, and the main line closed in stages from the northern end between 1955 and 1961.  The aqueduct over the Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge railway line was removed, and later replaced by a footbridge for towpath walkers.  The M60 Motorway severed the route in three places.

The route has now been built over in several places, particularly the northernmost end in Hollinwood.  In other places the canal has been filled in, with the towpath still walkable.  The central section, particularly around Whitehouses (Fairbottom) Junction, is still in water and it doesn’t take much effort to imagine it re-opened.

Waterhouses (Fairbottom) Junction
Waterhouses (Fairbottom) Junction

The Hollinwood Canal Society was formed in 2003 to support restoration of the route as far as practicable, possibly including the link, proposed many years ago, at the northern end to the Rochdale Canal.

Like most restoration projects there are problems to solve, but nothing is impossible.

Hollinwood Canal – Features

Distances are measured from Fairfield Junction with the Ashton Canal.

Kilometerage Feature
00.000 Fairfield Junction with the Ashton Canal.
00.230 Manchester Road Bridge.
00.590 Harrison’s Bridge.
00.955 Medlock Street Bridge.
01.255 Swing Bridge. Gone.
01.730 Footbridge over railway where aqueduct removed. Replacement aqueduct required for restoration.
01.870 Swing Bridge. Now a causeway.
02.240 Cinderland Bridge.
03.045 Swing Bridge. Now fixed.
03.160 Footbridge only crossing M60 Motorway.  New aqueduct required for restoration.
03.500 Stannybrook Road Bridge. Now a causeway.
03.740 Bridge
03.750 Dark (Waterhouses) Tunnel South Portal.  Now opened out into cutting.  Was 60m (66 yards) long.
03.820 Dark (Waterhouses) Tunnel North Portal.
03.920 Waterhouses Aqueduct.
03.995 Waterhouses Bottom Lock 19.  Derelict.
04.060 Waterhouses Lower Staircase Lock 20  Derelict.
04.090 Waterhouses Upper Staircase Lock 21  Derelict.
04.175 Waterhouses Top Lock 22  Derelict.
04.190 Swing Bridge.  Now a causeway.
Kilometerage Feature
04.200 Waterhouses (Fairbottom) Junction with Fairbottom Branch
04.285 Footbridge.
04.355 Aqueduct.
04.685 Crime Bridge.  Now a causeway.
04.900 New aqueduct required over M60 Motorway for restoration.
05.460 Cutler Hill Bridge. Now a causeway.
06.165 Street Bridge.  Now a causeway.
06.535 Bridge. Gone.
06.710 Bridge.  Gone.
06.815 Hollinwood Lock 23.  Gone.
06.945 Bridge.  Gone.
06.995 Hollinwood Lock 24.  Gone.
07.310 Manchester Road Bridge.  Gone.
07.350 Hollinwood Lock 25.  Gone.
07.470 Hollinwood Lock 26.  Gone.
07.540 Junction with Werneth Branch Canal.
Kilometerage Feature

Hollinwood Canal – Maps

Maps of the Hollinwood Canal are available for download – FREE.

Extract from Hollinwood Canal Map
Extract from Hollinwood Canal Map (Note the download maps may be more up to date than this extract)

The maps cover the Hollinwood Canal, including the Fairbottom Branch, plus the Werneth Branch Canal and the Stockport Canal, all in one map.

Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals
Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals covered by the maps for downloading

The maps are available to download in different formats from these pages:-