A historic series of hidden locks along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is being revealed for the first time in 170 years.
The Stanley Flight, which was built in 1848 by the celebrated Victorian engineer Jesse Hartley, is being uncovered as part of a £20 million highways improvement scheme in Liverpool.
Considered a ‘hidden jewel’, it was a pivotal moment in the Industrial Revolution as it connected the canal to the city’s thriving dock system, in turn transforming the speed at which cotton and coal flowed to and from Lancashire mill towns to the British Empire.
A two metre-high, 10 metre-long wall on Great Howard Street has always obscured the Stanley Flight from view, but current work by heritage experts to reduce the wall’s height will make it visible to passers-by.
Liverpool City Council hopes the project will make the Victorian innovation a tourism feature in the city’s emerging Ten Streets creativity district.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, says: “The Stanley Flight is of huge historical importance as it defines the moment at which Britain’s most important canal connects to its most important river and marks the birth of Liverpool’s role as a truly global trading centre.
“The legacy of Jesse Hartley, who completed both the Albert and Stanley Docks in the space of just two astonishing years, can still be felt today. His work is a major element of our World Heritage status so it’s thrilling to see one of his lesser-known feats be given a new lease of life. I’m sure he’d be delighted to know that his industrial ingenuity will help shape our plans to capitalise on the digital revolution.”
Bill Froggatt, heritage adviser at the Canal & River Trust charity which cares for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, adds: “The Canal & River Trust works hard to engage communities with their local waterways, and the simple act of opening up the view on to the Stanley Flight is an effective way to ensure the heritage of the Industrial Revolution remains an important part of Liverpool’s story.
“Our staff and volunteers have been working hard to clear and tidy the area, and over the next few weeks they will be planting shrubs, herbs and bulbs, so that come spring this will be a really attractive space that everyone can enjoy whether walking to work or just out for a stroll in the fresh air.”
Liverpool architect practice BCA Landscape has designed the remodelled wall and is also creating new artwork for the new Great Howard Street Bridge, which is expected to be completed in March.