Sunday, 24 January 2016

Picking up the packet boat from Stretford and then post haste to Castlefield on the Duke’s Canal



Packet boat charges on the Duke's Canal 1841
Now I often write about living in the township in the mid 19th century and I reckon if I had wanted to travel into Manchester it would have been by water.

So if I could have afforded it I would have chosen one of the twice daily package boats from Stretford along the canal which transported passengers in comfort and speed.

A ticket for the front room cost 6d [2½p] and the back room 4d [1½p].*

This was travelling in style.   These packet boats were fitted with large deck cabins surrounded by windows which allowed the passengers to sit “under cover and see the country” glide by at the rate of six miles an hour, made possible by  two or sometimes three horses which pulled the packet.  And if that was not style enough the lead horse was guided by a horseman in full company livery.**

It was a pleasant enough journey for most of the route was still across open farm land and it was not till Cornbrook that the landscape became more industrial.

From here on there was no mistaking that the final destination was that busy, smoky and energetic city.  The chemical and dye works of Cornbrook gave way to saw mills, a textile factory, paper mill and all manner of wharves and ware houses before the packet arrived in the heart of Castlefield.

But we all know that I wouldn’t have been in the money and so there would have been no fast packet boat for me and no walk out of the village along the old road to Stretford, instead it would have been a longer and slower tramp, north through Martledge.  But that is another story for another time.

Location; Stretford, Trafford

Pictures; Packet boat charges from Pigot and Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford 1841, and detail of the Cornbrook stretch of the Duke’s canal from the OS map of Lancashire, 1841-53, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

*This was beyond what most of our residents could afford.  A domestic servant might earn 2s 9d [13½] while that of a labourer was 13s.6d [57½p].

**Slugg, T.J., Reminiscences of Manchester, J.E.Cornish, Manchester 1881, Page 223

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