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24. Building the MSC.


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Various machines were used on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal including several of these steam navvies. While such machines were a great help, manual labour by navvies still accounted for much of the work. Here we can see navvies and machine working side by side. A horse can be seen in the foreground, ready to take away the filled railway wagons. The wagons at the higher level in the background were of a light construction and probably used to carry construction materials, whereas those in the foreground were of a more robust construction and would be used for the transportation of soil rock etc.



The pontoon, or floating dock seen here at Ellesmere Port was floated along the Tyne from its place of construction to its workplace on the Manchester Ship Canal. It was designed by Alexander Taylor, who was engineer for the Manchester Pontoons and Dry Docks Company. The Company itself was formed by Newcastle businessman - Sir George Renwick.

The pontoon was launched in August 1893 and reached its destination in October of that year. 'Beeswing' was the first ship to use the pontoon. The vessel moored in the foreground is the Manchester Ship Canal hopper 'Alpha'.



Showing a steam ship using the Floating Pontoon Dock at Manchester.



The docks at Pomona, docks 1,2,3 and 4, were smaller than those at the Salford 'end' of the Ship Canal - Docks 6, 7 and 8. Pomona Docks dealt with coastal traffic. The railway lines on the right were part of the Dock's railway network, which carried cargos and materials around the Docks.



During the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal miles of temporary railway track was laid to transport materials and men around the sites. Here we can see several navvies standing next to a signal box for such a railway line, with signal flags and lights. The hand-written sign over the hut's door reads 'no loafers', with a similar instruction on the base of the lights. The man on the left appears to be the signal operator as his hand is resting on metal rods, attached to the side of the post, which were moved to change the signals.



This photograph of spare lock gates illustrates the scale of the locks constructed on the Manchester Ship Canal.



The Ship Canal had various types of specialist crane in order to lift the heavy loads being transferred to and from ships. This one is of the lighter 30 Ton steam crane.



Steam Crane at Workon the Manchester Ship Canal.



There were two types of steam cranes used during the excavation of the Manchester Ship Canal. The steam crane on the left of the photograph was manufactured by J. H. Wilson & Co of Liverpool and the one on the right by Messrs. Whitaker Brothers of Horsforth Leeds. These two types of crane could also be converted to excavators to help in the removal of light types of soil from the Ship Canal. Both of these machines were very versatile being able to turn through 360 degrees and easily transported along the whole reach of the Ship Canal.



Various types of excavators or 'steam navvies' were used on the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Here we can see several machines partly submerged by the incoming tide.


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Fascinating to see the scale of some of the machinery used. How on Earth did they get those lock gates into position? icon_eek.gif

Brute force and any mechanical advantage they could apply!, including as Sid puts it so elequently a "REALLY BIG HAMMER", Dave.

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