The ports of Manchester, more commonly known as the Manchester shipping canal, runs from the River Mersey. In 2010 Manchester handled over 7 million tonnes of shipping cargo, and regularly handles 8,000 shipping containers annually. For docks that stand some 40 miles inland, this is a very large amount of traffic.
Queen Victoria officially opened the canal in 1894, and along the canal are many locks, that are large enough to accommodate ocean sized shipping vessels. Due to the logistical complications of ferrying along the canal, and the fact that container ships pass by the port of Liverpool to get to Manchester, means the docks aren’t as busy as might have been for such a good location. The good news for container users is that the owners of the Manchester shipping canal, Peel Ports, are investing heavily to expand and improve facilities to accommodate 100,000 containers, some twelve times more than they handle at present.
Manchester is in such a good location for distribution in the North West and around the country. To have cargo shipped this far inland, and then be surrounded by motorways is a perfect scenario. Manchester has excellent transport links to the M60, M61, M62 and the M66. Leaving Manchester via the M60, container transit would find itself on the East side of Manchester heading towards the M62 in an easterly direction. This motorway would take any cargo through Wakefield (50 miles), onto Pontefract (53 miles), and then Hull (97 miles) on the North Sea coast. The motorway network leaves Manchester in all directions, and taking the M61 or M62 would leave Manchester to the West, and be the quickest route onto the M6. Once en-route on the M6 containers transported North will find the first major destination being Preston (34 miles). Travelling North the M6 cuts straight through the Lake District and onto Carlisle (120 miles). After Carlisle, the network opens up into Scotland. Travelling South from Manchester Via the M6 motorway, containers will be transported, passing Crewe (36 miles), and onto Birmingham (86 miles).
When Manchester was opened in 1894, it became the UK’s third busiest port. With the size of vessels constantly growing, the Manchester shipping canal has become slightly redundant for many ships, but with the investment and expansion planned by the owners, Manchester can thrive again with a marked increase in container traffic.