Monday, 29 May 2017

The mystery of the blocked up archway beside the canal at the Gaythorn Bridge

Now I haven’t yet got to the bottom of the mystery beside the Rochdale Canal and I rather think I never well.

Lock 90 and that mystery, 2017
Of course there will be more than a few people with an interest in tunnels and dark secret passages who will have a theory and an explanation.

For now, I wonder where that archway led and its original purpose.

It stands by lock number 90 on the Rochdale Canal just before the canal runs under the Gaythorn Bridge.

Soon this bit of the waterway will be dwarfed by the huge residential and commercial block which according to the developers will consist of 360 luxury apartments rising above Albion Street in 28 storeys.

A window not an entrance? 2017
And that is how I came to our arch because while I have past it countless times it was only when Andy Robertson sent me a new set of pictures of the building site that I noticed the entrance to nowhere.

Its part of a stone structure and may once have given access to what was variously a timber and coal yard, although closer inspection suggests it was perhaps a window.

Lock 90 in 1849
The maps from the late 1840s and into the 50s show that the land directly beyond that arch was a coal wharf with a weighing machine shown almost on the spot of the entrance.

Later still in 1894 there does still appear to be a building but none of the directories from the period list anything on this side of Trafford Street which runs parallel with the canal.

The bigger picture, 2017
I did come across one picture in the digital archive of the tow path facing the bridge on Albion Street dated 1909 but I am sure this in not our wall.

So for now that is it but if there is anything constant in the world it is that someone will know or will go off to look for the answer.

I hope so.

Location; the Rochdale Canal

Picture; down on the Rochdale Canal, 2017 courtesy of Andy Robertson, and from the 1849 OS mapd of Manchester & Salford, 1844-49, courtesy of Digital Archives Association


  1. I'm not familiar with the location but looking at the picture could it not simply have been to let a horse go around the pillar as the path becomes obstructed by the lock gate?

  2. Possibly the rogues from The Gaythorn Tavern were using the archway as a quick escape route from the peeler's.