The things I've seen: The Anderton Boat Lift

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The Independent Travel
MY assistant offered to arrange for a small boat to be put at my disposal. But I decided against it, and we walked instead. We followed a path down to the River Weaver. Behind some gates a huge, idle machine stood waiting.

The Anderton Boat Lift, in Cheshire, has not been in operation since 1982. But it was once the main commercial link between the Trent and Mersey Canal, and the river. It was built in 1875 to move boats between the two waterways, which pass close together at Anderton. The canal is 50ft above the river. Boats ascended and descended in vast water tanks. They joined the canal through a cast-iron viaduct. Previously, goods had to be transferred by hand.

The lift was a great success, serving the growing local industries. Salt from the nearby saltworks was carried, as well as coal and china clay. A fall of trade in inland waterways in the Fifties finally led to the lift's closure. Now the canal has been mainly given over to pleasure craft. There were flag irises growing in the viaduct. And there were giant sets of gears lying unused in the long grass by the waterfront. The gates were locked.

We stood looking up at the redundant lift. We would have got a better view from the water. A small boat would have been helpful. My assistant said nothing.

The Anderton Boat Lift is at Ordnance Survey grid reference SJ 647752.

(Photograph omitted)