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One of Salford's most famous sites (and indeed sights), this unique landmark links the city with the neighbouring borough of Trafford.
The original Barton Aqueduct was built by James Brindley in 1761 to take the Duke of Bridgewater's canal across the River Irwell. The aim of the canal was to transport coal from the Duke's collieries at Worsley to Manchester, which lay about 10 miles away, to the east. Part of the scheme involved crossing the River Irwell and Brindley, who disliked the idea of locks, suggested building an aqueduct instead of locking down to the river and up the other side.
This early aqueduct was considered an engineering marvel of the industrial age, both in its ambition and execution of the design. The construction enabled the Bridgewater Canal to pass over the River Irwell, and continue its course into Manchester. Upon completion Barton Aqueduct became one of the wonders of the industrial age - with many visitors coming from all over the country to witness 'ships sailing over ships'. Many see the building of the Bridgewater Canal and Barton Aqueduct as the start of the transport revolution which acted as the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution which changed the shape of the world.
When the Manchester Ship Canal decided to use the course of the Irwell at Barton as part of their navigation channel it was necessary to demolish Brindley's aqueduct and replace it with a structure even more marvellous. The Barton Swing Aqueduct was designed by Edward Leader Williams and opened in 1893. The aqueduct swings open, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal. The swinging span is 235 feet long and weighs 1,450 tons. Hydraulic rams are used to drive rubber seals into each end of the moveable tank.
Today it is still somewhat of a curiosity and attracts industrial historians from all over the world to marvel at its ingenuity and design. The close proximity of this engineering masterpiece and the contemporary swing bridge is unique. It is still a sight to see 'ships sailing over ships'.
See the Barton Aqueduct lit up from 14 December to 3 January to mark the end of the 250th anniversary of the Bridgewater Canal.