Castlefield, Manchester

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Castlefield is an inner city conservation area of Manchester, in North West England. The conservation area which bears its name is bounded by the River Irwell, Quay Street, Deansgate and the Chester Road. It was the site of the Roman era fort of Mamucium or Mancunium which gave its name to Manchester.

Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom
Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom

The Rochdale Canal met the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield in 1805 and in the 1830s they were linked with the Mersey and Irwell Navigation by two short cuts. In 1848 the two viaducts of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway crossed the area and joined each other, two further viaducts and one mainline station Manchester Central railway station followed. It has a tram station, Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink station providing frequent Manchester Metrolink services to Eccles, Bury, Altrincham, Manchester Piccadilly, East Didsbury and Rochdale.

Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom
Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom

The name Castlefield is a short form of 'field of the castle [i.e. fort]'. As well as lending its name to the Castlefield area of Manchester, Manchester derived its name from Mamucium which meant "breast-shaped hill" in Celtic. The designation 'The Castle-in-the-field' was in use in the Middle Ages, but eventually came to be abbreviated to Castlefield, as it is in use now.

Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom
Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom

It has been said that, the arrival of the Bridgewater Canal in Castlefield in July 1761, marked the start of the Industrial revolution. It was significant that price of coal was halved, making steam power commercially viable. The Rochdale Canal, and a network of private branch canals joined the Bridgewater at Lock 92 in Castlefield. The Bridgewater Canal company hesitated in connecting their canal the adjacent Mersey and Irwell Navigation until the Rochdale Canal Company had almost constructed its Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, and the railways had arrived in the 1830s.

Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom
Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom

Before 1750, roads were an impractical way of transporting heavy goods and water transport on the rivers was the accepted method. The number of suitable rivers was limited. Power to drive machinery was also derived from water but this needed fast-flowing streams where a head could be built up to turn the waterwheels. Finding the two types of water at the same locality was rare. Castlefield could use the River Medlock, as it fell to join the River Irwell to turn the wheels, but the Irwell needed to be improved to make it a safe river to navigate.

Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom
Castlefield of Manchester, United Kingdom

The Dukes Warehouse was built at the end Bridgewater Canal over the River Medlock. It has long since gone. It was first built in 1771, destroyed by fire in 1789 and rebuilt and extended including a fulling mill on the southern bank and cottages on the northern bank. It was destroyed again by fire in 1919. Built at the same time was the Grocers warehouse 19.4 x 9.7m . This was a five storey warehouse with one then two shipping holes.

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