Report - - The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, Re-visited - May 2010 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, Re-visited - May 2010


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The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal - Re-visited by Ojay.

I had previously visited this place back in March, full report and history HERE.

During the last visit I only managed to take a detailed look at the Eastern section of the Canal tunnel which runs under Deansgate, passing underneath the Great Northern Goods Warehouse leading up to Watson Street then underneath the old Central Station, now GMEX.

I was in there around 3 hours last time and was hoping to see it all, as it's such a vast underground space. However as I soon found out this wasn't to be the case, as soon as I headed out of Bay 4 to continue down into the Western section of the tunnel, it became flooded part way through Bay 5, I could walk down the Canal towpath on the right as far as the end where it enters into Bay 6 but as you can see from the picture below it's bricked up and the only way from this point is Waders, Dinghy or Kayak! (GUTTED - I had neither and had to leave.)

A Bit more History:

Work originally commenced in July 1837 with the breaking of ground at both ends of the tunnel, 26,000 yards of excavation followed, before the 1100 yard long Canal tunnel was completed in April 1838.

The brick archways that form the canal are 20ft wide, the depth of the water was 8ft 6in and the height from the surface of the water to the centre of the archways was 11ft 6in. The towing path which was excavated out of solid rock, was 3ft 6ins wide.

The tunnel was cut out of soft bunter sandstone and was 80% bricklined, with the remainder trimmed rock face.

From bay 8-11 there is a 'very objectionable odour' the source has been unknown since construction, the air quality was real poor in these bays, and infact during the war when there were outbreaks of fever these bays were put out of use. (I'm not surprised). Also there is a significant amount of dripping water through into Bay 7 where the Canal passes under Byrom Street, another mystery?

Since construction in 1837 the Canal has been used to transport goods to and from the Quays/Great Northern Goods Warehouse and Central Station. The section between Watson street and the Rochdale Canal was closed and backfilled in 1875, later becoming the site of Central Station in 1880 - the last main passenger railway terminus to be built in Manchester. The remainding section of tunnel was still used for commercial traffic before it was officially closed in 1936.

During WW2 the tunnel was drained to become an air raid shelter, which could house upto 5,000 people based on Home Office guidelines. With the war ending, the shelters were officially closed in May 1945 by the Ministry of Home Security.

The main section of the Canal, from Rochdale Canal up to the Granada Studio property, was sold by Manchester Ship Canal Company to the Heron Corporation Ltd in 1977. Granada had purchased their part of the Canal in 1955.

Anyway it was always on the agenda to get back and take a look at the Western section down to Granada Studios, again it was to be another epic explore around 4 hours chest deep in freezing cold water, but well worth it.

I had to ditch most of my gear early on whilst I was in there due to it being difficult navigating in deep water, but decided to keep my iPhone handy just in case. Indeed during my time in there I experienced major wader fail, infact they had filled up about half way, making it very difficult climbing the scaffolding underneath Granada in Bay 16 to get out. Luckily there is a raised concrete platform beyond the scaffold sections which leads to a stairwell upto the basement of Granada Studios. It was here that I managed to empty out the gallons of water LOL and discovered my iPhone had taken a swim too!

Whilst they were drying out I had a mooch about, infact the blast walls had been knocked through and I could walk the towpath all the way back up to Bay 13 before it was bricked again. I also had a look up near Granada, the top of the stairwell is locked with a huge metal door, I could just about see through the keyhole into a corridor, which I understand is where they store props and sets for TV shows.

It looks as though it also serves as an Emergency Fire Escape as well, but if you saw it would soon realise it's the most dangerous and useless form of escape and meeting point I have ever seen! I mean you would be safer if there was a fire!!

Anyway after taking some photos, I wadered back up and climbed down the scaffold back into the deep freezing cold water for a long mooch back up to the 'dry' section of Bay 4. By the time I got back it was late and my feet were freezing I just wanted to get back home and take a warm shower but I couldn't help but think I have seen enough water for one day.

More epic failure followed as by the time I got back to my car I discovered my keys and fob were soaking as like a true weapon I had left them in my jeans pocket, Aaaaargh!

It took me another hour and half before I could get the immobiliser to work, and the fucking thing started.... GET ME HOME!

Despite the setbacks this was an awesome experience, and probably one of my favourite explores to-date, I love that place and after wanting to see it so badly for so long I wasn't even phased by the other stuff in the end.

Bay 5, where the last visit ended and this once begins, Enjoy



Bay 6


Bay 7


Bay 8




Bay 9




Bay 10




Bay 11


Bay 12


Bay 13




Bay 14





Bay 15





Bay 16