The First Cut: 250 Years of the Bridgewater Canal

Barton Aqueduct, 1795

The First Cut: 250 Years of the Bridgewater Canal

2011 saw the 250th anniversary of the Bridgewater Canal in Salford. Opened in 1761, the canal is arguably the birthplace of the industrial revolution, with its engineering and social innovations shaping modern society.

To mark this momentous occasion the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) generously supported the Friends of Salford Museums' Association by funding 'The First Cut' project, supporting creative community activities to engage local people in the canal's history and significance today, leading up to an exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery in October 2011.

Textile artist Jane Dennerly has ran workshops at events and festivals during the summer of 2011 for people of all ages to create large-scale appliqué handing inspired by the canal. Volunteers have collected stories and oral histories relating to the canal to add to Salford Heritage Services' material for future research, learning and projects.

Creative Industries in Salford (CRIIS) worked with young people along the canal corridor to develop their media and film-making skills. Together, they have produced a short film that is a contemporary take on the canal's history and importance to communities today.

An Apple mobile app was development, encouraging visitors and local people to engage with the canal and its history through up-to-date technology. It forms a canalside trail complete with information, pictures, sounds and challenges, and can be downloaded to your Apple mobile device free of charge from iTunes.

Download the Bridgewater app from the iTunes App Store.

'The First Cut' exhibition was open between October 2011 and January 2012 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, and included a fascinating collection of archival and museum objects and documents that have not been displayed for some time. These range from letters written by the Duke of Bridgewater himself, to commemorative objects and interpretations of the canal by artists such as LS Lowry and Liam Spencer. Also on display was the finished textile wall hanging, the film created by local young people, and a specially commissioned Story Chair created by artist Jane Revitt, enabling visitors to listen to some of the fascinating stories recorded during the project.

Salford's now famous Story Chair then went on tour around the city, stopping at libraries and community venues around Salford for three months, along with information about the project. During this time, lots more local people engaged with the project through poetry workshops, drawing walks, nature events run by the Salford Ranger Team and school digital arts workshops.

For further information on the canal's 250th anniversary celebrations, please visit the Bridgewater Canal 250th anniversary page.