The Hulme Locks Branch of the Bridgewater Canal was opened in 1838 to provide a link from the main line of the Bridgwater Canal to the River Irwell, then the Mersey and Irwell Navigation. The branch closed in 1995 when the new Pomona Lock opened a little further along the canal.
There are two lock chambers still in existence, although the upper chamber, seen in the photo above, has no working gates so the intermediate pound is at the higher level and the lower lock is the full height.
The upper lock was certainly working in the 1930s, but with a much shallower drop than the lower lock. The sides of the intermediate basin have been built up since then, and the lower lock made full height. Perhaps someone will leave a comment to explain when and why this was done.
The bottom lock of the Hulme Locks branch sits under the arch of the railway viaduct and leads onto the River Irwell.
You can see a virtual cruise along the Hulme Locks Branch with a choice of starting points.
The top lock of the Hulme Locks Branch was crossed by a swing footbridge and the semi-circle shows where it swung.
There are no lower gates for the top lock, although the gate recesses can be clearly seen. The lock was operational, with a smaller rise/fall that the lower lock, in the 1930s and the stonework has been built up level since then.
Looking from the top lock into the basin between the locks where boats turned through a right angle to pass through the lower lock under the arch of the railway viaduct.
Although there are lots of modern additions, like the paving, the underlying stonework looks like it’s been there for a long time at that level, rather than being around 1.8m (6′) lower if the two locks were both functional and similar rise/fall.
The top gates of the bottom lock of the Hume Locks Branch are all that’s holding back all the water in the Bridgewater Canal, and more. The lower lock gates have drifted open and all sorts of rubbish and driftwood from the River Irwell is wedged in them so they couldn’t be closed quickly.
The lower end of the former Hulme Locks Branch of the Bridgewater Canal emerges from the leftmost visible arch of the railway viaduct to join the River Irwell. We’re looking downstream on the River Irwell, towards the Manchester Ship Canal, with the River navigable for around 2km (1.2 miles) upstream too.