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Canal Archive: Bridging the Years

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Digging the Big Ditch: Contents

Pick a page to read by clicking on its title in the list below:

No. Title Description
1  By Hand and Shovel  At its peak over 16,000 men and boys were working on the Manchester Ship Canal, including specialist workers and men operating the various machines employed on the project. ...
2  A Helping Hand   Navvies used several devices to make their hard work a little easier. As they dug deeper and deeper into the cutting, it became more and more difficult to lift the extracted m...
3  Specialists at Work   As well as general labourers, specialist workers were employed on the Manchester Ship Canal construction.

Traditional craftsmen were brought in from Holland to do ...
4  Dealing with Danger   The contractor for the Manchester Ship Canal, Thomas Walker, cared greatly for the welfare of his men. He appreciated the dangerous nature of the work undertaken by the navvie...
5  Mean Machines  With such a huge undertaking as the Manchester Ship Canal, any available machinery and technology was soon put to use. Huge machines such as land excavators, dredgers and stea...
6  European Machines   Perhaps the most impressive machine used on the Manchester Ship Canal was the German land excavator, or the 'German', as it was known by the navvies. This huge machine was pro...
7  Floating Dredgers  Floating dredgers were invaluable additions to the workforce during the cutting of the Manchester Ship Canal.

At the start of construction it was expected that all ...
8  Steam 'Navvies'   In addition to the large French and German land excavators, several other types of excavator of English design were in use on the Manchester Ship Canal construction. They were...