Maps & plans from History of the Manchester Ship Canal

The Manchester Ship Canal is an iconic engineering feat of the Victorian era and was a vital infrastructure to the economic success of the city during the twentieth century. Bosdin Leech's two volume book History of the Manchester Ship Canal (1907) is the most important contemporaneous written account of the building of this audacious 36 mile link from Manchester to the Sea.

The full text of Leech's book has been scanned and made freely available online via the Internet Archive, however the numerous maps and plans included in the printed volumes have unfortunately not been captured in the digital version. Therefore, it was decided to scan them and make them available for download under a Creative Commons license as free for non-commercial use.

  • Download the full text of Leech's volume from The Internet Archive: Volume 1; Volume 2
  • Full citation: History of the Manchester Ship Canal, from its inception to its completion, with personal reminiscences, by Sir Bosdin Leech (Manchester: Sherratt & Hughes, 1907).
  • Find second hand copies of Leech's History of the Manchester Ship Canal on AbeBooks (not cheap - they are collectable items).
  • Find a copy in an academic library via Copac.
  • Further reading and information about the canal:
 Ship Canal view
(Image courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.)

Portrait of Bosdin Leech
Volume 1 materials Volume 2 materials
Cartoons Charts
Humorous Sketch. The Port of Manchester in 1950.
From Tit-Bits. (facing p. 116)[1]
  Statistical Diagram of the Progress of the Mancheser Ship Canal, 1894-1905. (facing p. 256)[1]
Ports of Liverpool and Manchester in 1960. Re-action "Bock Again" 
Rejoinder by W. T. Gray, Liverpool.
(facing p. 116)[1]
How Manchester Tried to Become a Seaport.
By W. T. Gray. (facing p. 116)[1]
How Manchester tried to become a seaport cartoon    
The Great Race for the Manchester Ship Canal Stake. (facing p. 260)[1] Great Race cartoon    



Map of the Rivers Mersey and Irwell from Bank Key to Manchester.
By Thos. Steers, 1712. (facing p. 54)[1]
River Mersey, 1712 Manchester Ship Canal, Eastham to Runcorn. (facing p. 50)[1] Eastham to Runcorn plan 
Plan of the Docks, etc., at Dawpool for the intended Manchester and Liverpool Ship Canal, 1825. (facing p. 56)[1] Docks Dawpool Manchester Ship Canal, Runcorn to Warburton. (facing p. 52)[2]

No 13 plan
[Apologies for poor quality scan]
Plan of the Rivers Mersey and Irwell between Western Point and Manchester, showing Proposed Improvements for Sea-Going Vessels. By H. R. Palmer, F.R.S. (facing p. 70)[1] Manchester Ship Canal, Warburton to Manchester. (facing p. 54)[1] Warburton to Manchester plan
Comparative Plans of the Ship Canal Docks in 1885 and 1888. (facing p. 210)[1] Comparative Dock Plans Bird's-Eye View of the Port of Manchester, 1898. (facing p. 240)[1] Birds eye view of Manchester docks
Bridgewater Docks at Runcorn, 1893. (facing p. 290)[1] Bridgewater Docks Map of the Manchester Ship Canal with the Latest Additions. (facing p. 258)[1] The Docks 1906
Plans in Pocket
  Plans in Pocket  
Plan of the Proposed Manchester Tidal Navigation.
By Hamilton H. Fulton, M.I.C.E., 1882. (facing p. 80)[1]
Manchester Ship Canal Amended Plan after Arrangements with the Trafford Estate, 1890. (facing p. 26)[1]
Boddington's Plan of the Manchester Ship Canal, with Entrance at Runcorn and Railway passing under Canal. Scheme as applied for in the Bill of 1883. (facing p. 112)[2] No 6 Plan
[Apologies for poor quality scan]
Map of the Manchester Ship Canal as Developed in 1898. (facing p. 238)[1]
Plan of the Manchester Ship Canal as applied for in the Session of 1884. (facing p. 189)[1] No 7 Plan 1984
Chart of the River Mersey from Runcorn to Liverpool, showing Variations of Sailing Channel between the years 1829 and 1884. (facing p. 241)[1] No 5 Channels Plan
Plan of the Manchester Ship Canal as applied for in the Bill of 1885. (facing p. 250)[1]    No 8 Plan 1885

[1] Courtesy of The John Rylands University Library.
[2] Courtesy of Manchester Metropolitan University Library.

Larger versions of these scans are available - drop me an email to m.dodge(at)manchester.ac.uk if you'd like copies.

Last update: 6th January 2010.

Copyright: Creative Commons license.
 Manchester Ship Canal webpage and scanned images provided by Martin Dodge.
Licensed under a
 Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 United Kingdom License.

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