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Bury Canal Society

Grand Opening of the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel

Canal Brought Back to Life
Friday, 19 September, 2008

First boat through Margaret Fletcher tunnel photoTwo hundred years after it was built, a major milestone in the restoration of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal was achieved with completion of the first section of restored canal at Middlewood, Salford. The opening of the section of waterway is the most challenging phase in the restoration of the 15.2 mile long canal which was once vital to the transportation of coal and cotton during the Industrial Revolution. Filled in during the 1960s, the canal through Middlewood represents the focal point for £600 million of urban regeneration and will have a mixed use development.

One of the last major waterways in Greater Manchester to be restored, restoration works have included the creation of a tunnel under the Salford Inner relief road which then extends under the railway viaduct. This new tunnel is known as the ‘Margaret Fletcher Tunnel’, dedicated to the late and much respected Chairman of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society.

Other engineering works included: the excavation of 80,000 tonnes of rubble and material; the widening of East Ordsall Lane road bridge; the creation of two small circular basins; the restoration of the original Lock 3 and the construction of a new seven-metre deep lock which will be the third deepest lock in the country. Although the first section to be reopened is just 437m long, it reconnects the canal to the rest of the UK’s inland waterway network via the River Irwell and paves the way for the restoration of the canal to both Bolton and Bury. The £6M project, delivered by contractors Volker Stevin and led by British Waterways.
John Fletcher photo
John Fletcher, Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society Chairman said: "This remarkable project shows just what can be achieved through partnership. I would like to pay tribute to all those from various organisations who have, over the years, worked towards this re-opening and commend it as an example of how well staff and volunteers from different sectors can work together.

A complete set of images of the opening of The Margaret Fletcher Tunnel can be seen below – click on any of the images.



  • Image 1 of 9 : The first boats entering the Margaret Fletcher tunnel
  • Image 2 of 9 : The first boats entering the Margaret Fletcher Tunnel
  • Image 3 of 9 : The first boat in the new deep lock
  • Image 4 of 9 : John Fletcher speaking with the Mayors
  • Image 5 of 9 : John Fletcher stood by the plaque
  • Image 6 of 9 : The Mayors with the plaque
  • Image 7 of 9 : Boats exiting the lock
  • Image 8 of 9 : Boats existing the deep lock
  • Image 9 of 9 : Boats in the new basin


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