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Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Navigation and Railway


Records of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Navigation and Railway: bridge report 1833, plans of canal reservoir 1833 and 1839, transfer of shares 1835.



Reference code


Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

An Act of August 1831 turned the former Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal company into the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Navigation and Railway. The Act also authorised the construction of the railway from Bolton to Manchester, but there was such protest from coal traders that an amendment was sought. The opposition arose from the proposal to close the canal, converting parts into the railway, but without providing branches and therefore restricting the traders' access to the railway. The amendment was obtained the following year and required that the canal be permanently kept open and maintained, and the railway should run parallel to it as far as was practical. Work began in 1833. Jesse Hartley was the engineer. It followed a similar but not exact route to the canal. Agreements were reached with the Liverpool & Manchester Railway for a junction at Salford and with the Bolton & Leigh Railway for a junction at Bolton. The former went ahead in 1844, but the latter was never realised, and neither was the branch to Bury that had been authorised from the beginning. The line opened in 1838, with a passenger service starting in the May. Goods were regularly transported from the beginning of 1839. Once completed, the railway had little effect on the canal traffic. Alterations had been made to the canal during the course of the railways construction when necessary. For example, at Oldfield Road the lock had been moved, a section of the canal had been lowered and two tunnels with a combined length of just over 80 yards built. It was never intended that the railway should relieve the canal of its traffic; cheap maximum canal tolls were introduced in 1840 and the company actively supported the Manchester & Salford Junction Canal because it would open up their canal to more traffic. The railway was not a great success. In 1844 it was proposed that the company should amalgamate with the Manchester & Leeds Railway, and the necessary Act was passed in 1846. For further information on the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield and Gordon Biddle's 'The Canals of North West England Volumes 1 and 2'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged with documents first followed by plans.