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Canal Archive: Bridging the Years

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Success at Last!

The third Manchester Ship Canal Bill was deposited in November 1884. Opposition was still determined, but the promoters were gaining ground. The Bill was first passed in the House of Lords on 2nd May, and finally went on to receive acceptance from the Second House. It received the royal assent the following day on August 6th 1885. The promoters had won the right to build the Ship Canal.

Manchester and its allies were overjoyed, and celebrations broke out across the region. Daniel Adamson received a hero's welcome, being met at Stockport by a brass band and a cheering crowd, who escorted him home. An ox was roasted at Eccles, and many public meetings were held in local towns to celebrate the event.

Certain conditions were attached to the passing of the Bill. The Promoters had to raise £5,000,000 before the work could commence. In addition, they were required to purchase the Bridgewater Navigation Company, including the Bridgewater Canal and Mersey and Irwell Navigation, for which they would need £1,710,000.

The process of raising the money was not an easy one, but by July 1887 they had raised enough funds to satisfy this requirement of the Bill, and the Bridgewater Navigation Company was purchased by cheque, the largest cheque written up to that date. The much larger amount of £5,000,000 had been secured by August. Unfortunately, disagreements over the raising of the funds and the need to strengthen the Board, led to the resignation of Daniel Adamson. He passionately believed that the money should be raised from the working population, rather than from other sources, such as big business, and could not agree with the Company's move in this direction. He was replaced as Chairman by Lord Egerton of Tatton.

With the funding in place the scheme could commence, and on 11th November 1887, at Eastham, Lord Egerton cut the first sod, which was then carried away in a wheelbarrow by Edward Leader Williams. This ceremony marked the official start of construction, with work in full swing by the end of the year. The cutting of the Big Ditch was underway.








This is page 5 of Bringing the Sea to Manchester - The Need for a 'Big Ditch'.
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The passing of the Manchester Ship Canal Bill was celebrated with the roasting of an ox in Eccles

The passing of the Manchester Ship Canal Bill was celebrated with the roasting of an ox in Eccles
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The cheque written for the purchase of the Bridgewater Canal was for the sum of £1,710,000

The cheque written for the purchase of the Bridgewater Canal was for the sum of £1,710,000
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