First Barton Aqueduct c1890                   
The first Barton Aqueduct was designed by James Brindley and opened in 1761. It was demolished in 1893 to be replaced by Barton Swing Aqueduct to allow large ocean-going ships to pass on their way to Manchester Docks.
Barton Aqueduct was built to take the
Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell without the need to use a flight of locks, which would have been very time-consuming. Britain's first major commercial canal took coal from Worsley right into central Manchester at Castlefield, thereby giving Manchester a great advantage in its progress to becoming the world's leading industrial city, knicknamed "Cottonopolis" because of its importance in the textile trade.
 
In the foreground of the photo on the left are lock gates. The River Irwell had been adapted as part of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation in the eighteenth century, so that locks helped to enable boats to sail along a more controlled waterway.
Boats took cargoes right into Manchester. Hence the city's Quay Street, so-named as it was near to where cargoes were unloaded.
Beyond the stone aqueduct can be seen All Saints' school. The school building was also demolished in 1893 and the school relocated on Trafford Road.


An ox roast took place in Patricroft where celebrations took place following the passing of the Manchester Ship Canal Bill in 1885.
 
The Bill gave the go-ahead to the scheme to build a canal to link Manchester with the sea. This was welcomed by towns in the Manchester area such as Eccles as the promise of future prosperity.


The Ship canal opened in 1894. To allow ocean-going ships to pass, swing bridges were built at Barton. The swing aqueduct (on the right) carried 800 tons of water. This was to allow the Bridgewater Canal to cross at this point.
Both the new swing auqeduct and its predecessor, Brindley's stone aqueduct of 1761, were considered to be wonders of their age.
Read more in the excellent Building Barton's Bridges (Neil Richardson, 2002) by Glen Atkinson.