Canal transport

Besides the existing Shropshire Union canal which circles NW of Upton
several other canals have been proposed but never built

THE DEE - MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL 1824 & 1825 designed to bypass Liverpool, would have linked Manchester to the sea at Dawpool, near Heswall. At this time Dawpool could provide a safe anchorage for seagoing vessels, although no quays or docks existed. The promoters proposed to build two docks, the main dock being 1000 ft long by 300 ft wide. From this a canal able to accommodate 400-ton ships was to be built. (This would be about the size of the Weaver Navigation). It would follow the Dee shore for three miles before turning inland and rising 35 feet, using five locks, to cross the Shropshire Union Canal, at Mollington, by an aqueduct. From here it skirted the north boundary of Upton before crossing the Gowy and heading for Frodsham and ultimately Manchester Following a survey by the Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson, a Bill went to Parliament in 1825, and was subjected to considerable opposition. Eventually the Bill was rejected as it was deemed not to comply with Standing Orders. The estimated cost of this proposal was £1m Later in 1825 the proposal was revived and revised. This time the canal would handle 250-ton vessels, but now cost £1.5m. Whilst a canal capable of carrying 250-ton vessels does not seem large, today, in 1825 it would accommodate over 80% of the ships then using the Liverpool. To achieve this the locks near Mollington would have been in pairs, the larger being 110 ft x 28ft whilst the smaller 82 ft x 20 ft. This scheme did not even get to Parliament.

THE BIRKENHEAD AND CHESTER CANAL 1833 Other than plans in the Record Office little is known of this proposal. It is presumed that it was one of the many schemes which the promoters of Birkenhead put forward to foster the development of their town. No doubt it was attractive to some in Chester as it would provide competition for the existing canal and would have much reduced the length of the journey barges had to make on the Mersey Estuary itself. They may also have felt a viable port at Birkenhead would have been good competition for Liverpool. It is presumed it would have been a “broad” canal ie taking barges of about 14 feet beam. After passing through Stanney, Croughton, and Caughall this canal would have dissected the parish, passing through the Zoo site, the Long Lane / Caughall junction, on across Oulton Drive and Cross Green, to meet the Shropshire Union Canal in the vicinity of the water tower, in Boughton.

THE WAVERTON – STOAK CANAL 1907 This proposal was originally made to the Royal Commission on Canals & Inland Navigations and involved the enlarging of the Shropshire Union Canal. This could have taken two forms. Either a canal with locks of 230 ft by 22 ft, or 230ft by 30ft. (Similar to the largest lock found on the Weaver Navigation). Ironically the larger locks were to accommodate six 72ft x 14ft craft whilst the smaller lock would have accommodated two 110 ft x 22ft craft which would have needed a wider and deeper canal. As the widening of the canal through Chester would be impractical a new cut from Waverton to Stoak was proposed, bypassing Chester and several locks. This new section would have had no locks so would have involved a larger amount of earth moving or a route following the contours of the land or more likely a mixture of both. Whilst the exact route is not clear, it could have encroached on the eastern boundary of Upton Parish. The proposals of the Royal Commission were pigeon holed due to the First World War and the national economic climate after the War, along with a decline in canal carrying, meant that the scheme went no further Two other proposals for canals across the Wirral might have involved Upton, although only passing reference has been found. In 1771, in a proposal for improving the Weaver Navigation, reference was made to the building of a canal from Ince to the Dee. Whilst a map produced by the Rochdale Canal Company in 1792 is reputed to show a proposed canal from “below” Chester to the Weaver at Frodsham. These could well have come through Upton and may even in total or in part refer to the route adopted by the existing canal.