Cobwebbed

Off to one side of the Irwell’s navigable flow lies a stub of the old Manchester and Salford Junction Canal. The lock gates are decaying. The winding gear for opening the gates is rusted and cobwebbed. The detritus of modern life bobs in the murky water. I have photographed this lock with no destination before, but always from the pavement, looking down. Today I ventured down the steps, to an area that had been repaved, set with benches, intended no doubt as a pleasant place for pedestrians to pause, linger, enjoy the aesthetics of the disused lock. This mini pleasure garden is now as disused and abandoned as the lock. I wandered around. The winding gear interested me, with its short, stubby handle on one side, and the square, tapered spindle for the windlass on the other. The canal originally stretched east from the Irwell, passing through four locks of which this preserved but decrepit remainder was the first, to reach the Rochdale Canal. Intended to remove the need for offloading cargo at the Irwell and carting it across the city for its onward journey, the timing of its construction was bad. It opened just as the railways became popular.

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