The Trent & Mersey Canal

Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire

Stunning views over the Cheshire Plain, mighty canal structures, the charming Potteries and mile-upon-mile of peaceful countryside

The 90-mile long Trent & Mersey Canal, begins close to the River Mersey near Runcorn and finishes at its junction with the River Trent in Derbyshire.

It evolved as a result of the development of the pottery industry in North Staffordshire, where the local clay had enabled pottery to be manufactured since Elizabethan times.

In 1765 Josiah Wedgewood, the top producer of pottery, put forward the idea of building a canal to link the Potteries with the River Mersey. Engineered by the canal-building genius James Brindley, it was the country’s first long distance canal.

Opening in 1777, the effect of the canal was instant and phenomenal – transport costs were quartered and the whole area expanded.  As well as pottery, industries prospering from it included the brewing industry at Burton on Trent, salt at Middlewich, Northwich and Sandbach, and coal mining in North Staffordshire.

Today the canal takes narrowboat holiday-makers through some of the best scenes that our waterways have to offer.  The canal boasts mighty feats of canal engineering, including the Anderton Boat Lift and the 2,647-metre long Harecastle Tunnel. As well as the flight of 31 locks between Middlewich and Kidsgrove known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’, which raise the canal up from the Cheshire Plains.

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