Exploring the Tunnels of Manchester’s Forgotten Subterranean Canal

manchester-and-salford-junction-canal (All images by James Perry of Gcat’s Lair, reproduced with permission)

The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal has been closed for ninety years, originally built to provide a direct waterway between the Rochdale Canal with the River Irwell. Unfortunately, it was constructed during the time when rail transport was becoming popular and fell into disuse as a result.




The canal is now dry, although large parts remain underneath the city and one of the original entrances is visible from the River Irwell. During the second world war, the canal tunnel was brought back to life as a public air raid shelter. The area was divided into bays, separated by two offset parallel brick walls for protection against bomb blasts.





Very little has changed in the canal tunnels since that time. Although accessible to urban explorers, electric lighting has not been installed in the majority of the tunnels and piles of rubble lie untouched. Tours of the tunnels are available through New Manchester Walks.

Explore more subterranean Manchester, starting at this former public convenience transformed into a bar.