Store Street Aqueduct

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Store Street Aqueduct
Store Street Aqueduct Canal Level.jpg
Store Street Aqueduct at the canal level
Coordinates 53°28′47″N2°13′39″W / 53.4796°N 2.2274°W / 53.4796; -2.2274 Coordinates: 53°28′47″N2°13′39″W / 53.4796°N 2.2274°W / 53.4796; -2.2274
OS grid reference SJ850981
Carries Ashton Canal
Locale Manchester
Maintained by Canal & River Trust
Heritage statusGrade II*
Trough construction Masonry
Pier construction Masonry
Total length220 feet (67.1 m)
Width17 feet (5.2 m)
Towpaths N Side
No. of spansOne
Designer Benjamin Outram

The Store Street Aqueduct in central Manchester, England, was built in 1798 by Benjamin Outram on the Ashton Canal. A Grade II* listed building [1] it is built on a skew of 45° across Store Street, and is believed to be the first major aqueduct of its kind in Great Britain and the oldest still in use today.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 3.2 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.

Benjamin Outram was an English civil engineer, surveyor and industrialist. He was a pioneer in the building of canals and tramways.

Ashton Canal canal in north west England

The Ashton Canal is a canal in Greater Manchester, England.

The aqueduct was constructed to cross Shooters Brook. It is built of stone with large voussoirs and retaining walls of coursed masonry and is 7.4 metres (24 ft) wide with triangular buttresses. The brook was culverted in about 1805 and Store Street was built over it. The canal is about 4.6 metres (15 ft) wide and 1.45 metres (4 ft 9 in) deep. The arch has a 7.6-metre (25 ft) square span and a 10.5-metre (34 ft) skew span rising 2.75 metres (9 ft 0 in) above road level. [2]

Navigable aqueduct bridge structure carrying a navigable waterway over an obstacle

Navigable aqueducts are bridge structures that carry navigable waterway canals over other rivers, valleys, railways or roads. They are primarily distinguished by their size, carrying a larger cross-section of water than most water-supply aqueducts. Although Roman aqueducts were sometimes used for transport, aqueducts were not generally used until the 17th century when the problems of summit level canals had been solved and modern canal systems were developed. The 662-metre (2,172 ft) long steel Briare aqueduct carrying the Canal latéral à la Loire over the River Loire was built in 1896. It was ranked as the longest navigable aqueduct in the world for more than a century, until the Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany took the title in the early 21st century.


A voussoir is a wedge-shaped element, typically a stone, which is used in building an arch or vault.

A buttress is an architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall. Buttresses are fairly common on more ancient buildings, as a means of providing support to act against the lateral (sideways) forces arising out of the roof structures that lack adequate bracing.

Store Street Aqueduct at Store Street level Store Street Aqueduct.jpg
Store Street Aqueduct at Store Street level

Generally, where a canal (or later a railway) crossed a road, or vice versa, the road would be diverted to cross at right angles. It had not always been acceptable but attempts to build masonry arch bridges at an angle, or "skew" of greater than about 15 degrees, had proved unsatisfactory. The method up to that time had been to build the voussoir arch with the stone course work parallel to the abutments. This transmitted the load outward from the crown in a straight line to the foundations, parallel to the faces of the arch. If a skew was attempted, it threw the lines of force outside the abutments, leading to weakness in the structure.

Arch bridge bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch

An arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its loads partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side. A viaduct may be made from a series of arches, although other more economical structures are typically used today.


In engineering, abutment refers to the substructure at the ends of a bridge span or dam whereon the structure's superstructure rests or contacts. Single-span bridges have abutments at each end which provide vertical and lateral support for the bridge, as well as acting as retaining walls to resist lateral movement of the earthen fill of the bridge approach. Multi-span bridges require piers to support ends of spans unsupported by abutments. Dam abutments are generally either side of a valley or gorge but may be artificial in order to support arch dams such as Kurobe Dam in Japan.

William Chapman had partially solved the problem in 1787 [3] [4] when building bridges for the Kildare Canal, the first being the Finlay Bridge near Naas. [5] The Kildare was part of the Grand Canal Company, for William Jessop had been the engineer. Jessop would no doubt have discussed it with Outram, his partner, and he experimented with the idea on the Rochdale Canal. Examples are Gorrell's Lane and March Barn road bridges, though it is possible that they were built later. [4] The method used was to build timber falsework parallel to the proposed arches. Planks were laid on the falsework parallel to the abutments. The position of the courses at the crown were marked out, then those across the remainder of the arch.

William Chapman (engineer) English engineer

William Chapman was an English engineer. Born in Whitby, he worked on the construction of the Old and Humber Docks in Hull, as well as many drainage and canal projects. He is credited with the invention of the bogie and articulation for rail vehicles.

Naas County town of Kildare, Ireland

Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. In 2016, it had a population of 21,393, making it the second largest town in County Kildare after Newbridge.

William Jessop British canal engineer

William Jessop was an English civil engineer, best known for his work on canals, harbours and early railways in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Although the aqueduct still exists, and is structurally sound, years of neglect led to water leakage through the joints, and the spiral construction can no longer be seen, the surface of the intrados having been rendered.

Later railway engineers improved on the system, producing what became known as helicoidal construction that became the norm in English skew bridge building. An exact solution to the problem was determined in the form of the French, or orthogonal, design. However this was complicated and expensive to build.

Skew arch

A skew arch is a method of construction that enables an arch bridge to span an obstacle at some angle other than a right angle. This results in the faces of the arch not being perpendicular to its abutments and its plan view being a parallelogram, rather than the rectangle that is the plan view of a regular, or "square" arch.

See also

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  1. Historic England, "Store Street Aqueduct (1270666)", National Heritage List for England , retrieved 11 September 2012
  2. Store Street Aqueduct, Engineering Timelines, retrieved 11 December 2011
  3. For, Society (1842). Long, G (ed.). The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. XXII Sigonio – Steam-vessel (1st ed.). London: Charles Knight & Co. p. 87.
  4. 1 2 Schofield, Reginald B. (2000). Benjamin Outram, 1764–1805: An Engineering Biography. Cardiff: Merton Priory Press. pp. 149–154. ISBN   1-898937-42-7.
  5. McCutcheon, William Alan (1984). The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 16. ISBN   0-8386-3125-8.