Work has begun to reveal one of the hidden jewels of the historic Leeds & Liverpool Canal for the first time in 170 years.
The Stanley Flight, built in 1848 by the celebrated Victorian engineer Jesse Hartley, was a pivotal moment in the Industrial Revolution as it connected the canal to the city’s thriving dock system – transforming the speed at which cotton and coal flowed to and from the Lancashire mill towns to the British Empire.
The series of four locks, each of which dropped the canal by 11 feet to Hartley’s new Stanley Dock, further cemented the port of Liverpool’s pre-eminent role in global trade in the 19th century, however, a two metre-high, 10 metre-long wall on Great Howard Street has always obscured it from view.
Heritage experts have begun a scheme to reduce the wall in height which Liverpool City Council hope will become a tourism feature in the new and emerging Ten Streets creativity district – a site covering 125 acres of former docklands which has a 15 year masterplan to create 2,500 new jobs.
The work to remodel the wall has been designed by Liverpool based landscape architects BCA Landscape, who are also creating new artwork for the new Great Howard St bridge, and is expected to be completed in March.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, said: “The Stanley Flight is of huge historical importance as it defines the moment at which Britain’s most important canal connects to its most important river and marks the birth of Liverpool’s role as a truly global trading centre.
“The legacy of Jesse Hartley, who completed both the Albert and Stanley Docks in the space of just two astonishing years, can still be felt today. His work is a major element of our World Heritage status so it’s thrilling to see one of his lesser-known feats be given a new lease of life. I’m sure he’d be delighted to know that his industrial ingenuity will help shape our plans to capitalise on the digital revolution.”
Bill Froggatt, Heritage Adviser at the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, said: “The Canal & River Trust works hard to engage communities with their local waterways, and the simple act of opening up the view on to the Stanley Flight is an effective way to ensure the heritage of the Industrial Revolution remains an important part of Liverpool’s story.
“Our staff and volunteers have been working hard to clear and tidy the area, and over the next few weeks they will be planting shrubs, herbs and bulbs, so that come spring this will be a really attractive space that everyone can enjoy whether walking to work or just out for a stroll in the fresh air.”
A widened pavement will also be created as part of the creation of a new dual carriageway on Great Howard Street (A565), which last September also saw the completion of the new £10m bridge to ensure heavier cargo can be transported to and from Peel’s Liverpool 2 Superport.
Other phases of the 2.7km long dualling project of the A565, which require lane restrictions, include:
Phase 1: Leeds Street to Blackstone Street – Road widening phase (completed by Winter 2018)
Phase 2: Bankhall Street to Millers Bridge – Road widening phase (completed by Summer 2019)
Phase 3: Boundary Street to Bankhall Street – Upgrade of Traffic Signalised junctions and Street lighting with associated resurfacing (starting spring 2018)
Expected to finish by Summer 2019, the £22m upgrade to North Liverpool’s Atlantic Corridors are a major part of Liverpool City Council’s wider £300m Better Roads programme to improve the city’s road infrastructure.
The scheme will be complemented by the creation of a further two new waterfront link roads, at the cost of £20m, at the city centre end of the A565, which are being built to support a proposed new £50m cruise passenger facility and new £30m Isle Of Man Cruise terminal.
The historic Regent Road (AKA The Dock Road) which runs parallel to Great Howard Street, alongside the £5bn Liverpool Waters scheme, is also being upgraded including the creation of a new cycle lane creating a 13 mile riverside route from Formby to the city centre.
History of the Canal:
The Leeds & Liverpool Canal was built between 1770 and 1816. The original impetus for the canal came from the merchants of Liverpool and Yorkshire who wanted improved access to coal from the Wigan and Bradford coalfields, and to limestone found primarily in the Skipton area. At just over 127 miles, it was the longest canal built as a single endeavour and the first to link the east and west coasts. The canal was a major improvement in the transport of goods and helped to generate considerable industry in the towns through which it passes. It is now cared for by the Canal & River Trust, a charity that looks after 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways.
History of the Stanley Flight:
The original canal terminus at Old Hall Street in Liverpool was not connected to the docks and therefore all cargo had to be transferred from the canal to the dock by horse and cart. It wasn’t until 1848 when Stanley Dock was constructed by Liverpool dock engineer Jesse Hartley that a connection between the canal and docks was made. The staircase of locks, originally known as the New Cut, is comprised of four locks each lifting the canal by eleven feet. Initially, the most common cargo to be taken down the flight was coal from the Wigan coalfields, but it was also used to transfer goods such as wheat and timber from the docks into Lancashire and beyond.