account arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right closecontact-us emailFacebookheart instagramjoin linkedin phonepinterestplaysearch twitteryoutube

Manchester Ship Canal

Manchester Ship Canal links Manchester with the coast and provides access to the city for large ocean-going vessels. It is not considered a leisure waterway.

Things to do nearby

Barton Swingbridge crosses the Manchester Ship Canal - Graham and Marilyn Speechley - 2004
Derelict and overgrown Frodsham Lock

Facts & Stats

37.4 miles


The length of the Manchester Ship Canal that is navigable.

5 locks


Year Opened

From Manchester to the Coast

It is not considered a leisure waterway and the incompatibility of large ships and small boats means that hired vessels are not usually permitted. Boat owners must seek permission to use the canal from the Manchester Ship Canal Company, proving that their boat is seaworthy, insured and has the required safety equipment on board. Information about the requirements is on the Peel Ports Group website. As commercial traffic has decreased, the regulations have become less onerous. 

There are links to the River Mersey at Eastham, the Shropshire Union Canal at Ellesmere Port, the River Weaver and Weaver Navigation at Western Point and the Bridgewater Canal via the lock in Pomona No 3 Dock.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

Woden Street Footbridge

  • Length: 600′ (182.8 metres)
  • Beam: 65′ (19.8 metres)
  • Height: 70′ (21.3 metres)
  • Draught: 28′ (8.5 metres)

Above Woden Street footbridge and into the upper reaches of the river Irwell (the inland most 1.4 miles – 2.2 km of navigation), craft are restricted to:

  • Beam: 25′ (7.6 metres)
  • Height: 15′ (4.5 metres)
  • Draught: 4′ 6″ (1.3 metres)

Navigation authority

Manchester Ship Canal Company