Cathy Read - Artist - Castlefield Canal Painting

Castlefield Canal – Artistic Glimpse into the Transport History of Manchester

Reflecting on Water in Paintings

Water has moods or should I say, is a reflection of moods? The weather plays its part, as do boats and water creatures which cross its path. Water has a capricious nature nonetheless. The canal is one of the most controlled of waterways. Man made, it goes where it’s put, but it won’t stay there without maintenance.

Canal Fascination

I grew up near the Rochdale Canal, at the time when canals had been abandoned for many years, decades even, but there was a growing interest in the restoration. The Rochdale Canal that I knew was barely a trickle, with sandy, grass covered dunes at the sides and two stone walled banks defining its course. The lock had been dammed with concrete, the gates long gone. Some ironworks remained, but there was no way you could pass a canoe along it, let alone a narrow, and that’s where my fascination with canals began.

Back to the painting, the canal we’re looking at is in Castlefield, near the Bridgewater canal and its junction with Castlefield basin. We’re on the Bridgewater canal, or an arm of it.

Capturing Manchester's History

Above us run through viaducts fanning out, as the traffic is filtered and set on a course to destinations west of Manchester beginning Deansgate station, I presume. Iron structures carry heavy rolling stock and the sound is deafening as they pass swiftly overhead. Each bridge has its characteristics, the low arches of the rear viaduct. Besides it, the diamond trellis expanse, of the central viaduct and the vast supports of the bridge, we’re standing below.

The Canal is spanned by a smaller Iron pedestrian bridge, which leads to the basin. The water itself is rippled by a light breeze. It’s dark waters reflect the scene above, in a near-perfect mirror. The location is a popular spot, especially for moody band photographs.

It’s quiet now, but I can imagine the heavy traffic it once enjoyed. There would have been little time to enjoy the scene, especially once the railways took hold, and were in direct competition. I often wonder what it would have been like back then? I’m certain that, as much as I love the canals now, I would not have wanted to live on them back in the day.

Would you?

Cathy Read - Artist - Castlefield Canal Painting
Castlefield Canal - ©2022 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic - 39 x 29 cm - SOLD

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