Visits to your school and the Canals around Greater Manchester.

Manchester was one of the major industrial cities of the Victorian Era. Huge cotton mills dominated the skyline leading to the nickname Cottonopolis. Canals crisscrossed the city moving cargo back and forth to satisfy the insatiable demands of industry. 

With a reliable connection to the sea secured by the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal ocean going vessels could travel right into the heart of the city to load and unload goods destined for locations all around the world. 

Decline and renewal

Today Manchester is a bustling urban area encompassng many of the mill towns that grew so prosperous during the Industrial Revolution. The canals now form a network of green and blue space benefitting the wellbeing of the local population and providing habitats for nature. 

Learn about a SSSI site in the heart of an urban area, see the wildlife present and study the development of this former Industrial powerhouse by spotting the clues left behind from the past on a visit to your local canal. 


In school visits

Build a Canal

This session helps children understand how and why canals were built, how they changed Britain and how canals are different to rivers. It provides an interactive way of discussing local industry and how the arrival of the canals shaped the landscape.

Water Safety

Learn how to spot the hazards of being near water, what to do in an emergency and our SAFE message (Stay Away From the Edge).

Waterside Visits

In some locations we may be able to facilitate a guided walk and lock demonstration for your class. Please get in touch to discuss what is possible in your area. 

Self-led Learning Resources

Find out more about the canals in Manchester:

Manchester Canals Fact File

Rochdale Canal Fact File

Life on the English Waterways

All About Canals

Building & Carrying Topic Pack


  • Waterside visits are outdoor visits with no indoor facilities available.


Outreach & Waterside visits in Manchester are FREE.