The photograph shows barges on the canal at the quayside of the Sankey Sugar Works. Raw cane sugar was brought on barges from Liverpool until 1959 when the sugar works switched over to road haulage. The canal had been closed north of the sugar works since 1931 and after the sugar works was lost as a customer closure of the canal was inevitable. It was officially closed in 1963 and was partially filled in by the local council in the mid 1970s. The area of the canal is now an area of great value for nature and recreation. The stretches of the canal remaining in water are home to a vibrant community of wildfowl, as well as being a very popular angling spot.
The Sankey Viaduct was built by George Stephenson in 1828-29 to take the Liverpool & Manchester Railway across the Sankey Valley. The Sankey Viaduct is a Grade I listed structure and is described by Heritage England as “the earliest major railway viaduct in the world”.
Constructed from yellow sandstone and red brick it is known locally as “The Nine Arches” and is still in daily use carrying trains weighing far more than could ever have been envisaged at the time of its construction. The architecture of the viaduct draws from canal aqueduct designs, being the available technology of the day. The viaduct stands between 18.3m and 21.3m tall.
More properly known as Dingle Cottage it is reported that the cottage shown in the picture was lived in by George Stephenson during the construction of the Sankey Viaduct. It was demolished in the 1970s to make way for new houses. Also shown on the left of the picture is the lock keepers cottage at Newton Common Lock.
Stephenson’s Viaduct was opened officially on 15th September 1830, as part of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. However, passengers had been transported across the viaduct on excursion trains earlier in the year. Finishing touches were not completed until July 1833, when copings were added to the parapet walls.
The large house shown at the top of the brow was built for the superintendent of the Viaduct Wagon Works in 1854.
The second superintendent, and longest serving of them all was Mr J.W. Emmett, who was superintendent between 1867 and 1903. It was during this period that the brow leading from Wharf Road to Earle Street became known as Emmett’s Brow. During Mr Emmet’s tenure he built new facilities to modernise the Wagon Works, and by 1900 over 2000 men were working at the factory. Mr Emmett was also active in local government and was an Improvement Commissioner and then Councillor between 1864 and 1904. The cottage at the bottom left is Stephenson’s Cottage.