Transport Networks: Road, Canal and Rail

One of the few studies of the turnpike system has looked at the route from Knott Head to Thornwaite (C) (Denman 2007). Another rare analysis of early roadside infrastructure is Jennings’ study of Bewcastle’s waterside inns (C) (Jennings 2011). In Greater Manchester a council-run HLF project removed the 20th century sections of Rochdale Bridge, in the centre of the town, to expose the River Roch and the original medieval to 17th century bridge fabric (May 2011). The 250th anniversary of the opening of the Bridgewater Canal, the first arterial industrial canal, has led to an upsurge in archaeological research on the buildings, functioning and economic impact of the canal (Nevell 2013; Nevell & Wyke 2011; Nevell, Wyke, Hartwell, Kidd & Redhead 2016). The impact of the buildings of the Manchester Ship Canal in the 1880s and the opening of the Manchester Docks in the 1890s has also been the subject of recent archaeological and historical study (Nevell & George 2017).

The rebuilding of much of the 19th century railway fabric has continued to threaten redundant infrastructure such as railway warehouses. This was the subject of a regional study for the North West (Nevell 2010) and more recently a national survey of the building type (Minnis 2016a). The latter discussing in detail the movement of goods and the resultant variety of building plan forms. The installation nationally of electronic signalling systems has made thousands of railway signal boxes redundant. This led to a national listing programme, with several sites on the North West protected, and a study of the building type by Historic England (Minnis 2016b).

The 19th century railway infrastructure of the region has also been the subject of research and recording through the planning process. The electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester and Manchester to Preston routes has led to recording of historic industrial archaeology remains, including the removal and replacement of the Chorley flying arches. A rare chance to investigate two railway stations came ahead of redevelopment in Greater Manchester. An open area excavation took place at the site of Knowsley Street, Bury, railway station (opened in 1848), revealing well-preserved remains and evidence for phasing of the is relatively short-lived station site (OAN 2008). The Ordsall Chord railway link on the Manchester and Salford border has seen extensive building recording by Salford Archaeology of the railway viaducts, including Stephenson’s 1830 railway bridge across the river Irwell, and the stables beneath the arrival station on Water Street. Pre-Construct Archaeology have carried out a detailed building survey of the remains of the late-19th century Exchange Station site in Salford, ahead of demolition to make way for new office blocks (Haslam, Proctor & Ridgeway 2017).

The lives of the navies and construction workers who built the railways was investigated for the first time in the region in 2010. Channel 4’s Time Team programme investigated a navvy camp at Risehill, on the Great Central Line in Cumbria, revealing the workshops and domestic huts of the 1870s’ camp built to construction the tunnel through this part of the Pennines at over 300m AOD (Brennan 2015). Finally, little work has been undertaken on recording the 20th century road infrastructure of the region. However, a national survey by English Heritage has identified a range of building types, from fuelling stations to roadside guest houses and phone boxes that are threatened by redevelopment. A number of North West examples were included in this study (Morrison & Minnis 2012).

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