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The Wonders of Worsley – Dukes and Delphs, Coals and Canals

Next tour: No public dates as yet. This tour can of course be booked privately.
Meet: outside Worsley Library, Worsley Road, 11am.

Picturesque black-and-white timber-framed waterside buildings, Britain’s first man-made waterway, and underground canals running through the Delph, a dramatic 52 mile system of caves and tunnels.

These are some of the reasons why Worsley is one of the wonders of the North-West. Yet alongside the aesthetic delights are more prosaic pleasures. Worsley is one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution. It was here in 1761 that the local landowner, the Duke of Bridgewater, and his ingenious engineers, John Gilbert and James Brindley, cut Britain’s first man-made canal independent of the river system – the Bridgewater Canal– to ferry the Duke’s coal to Manchester.

We visit the village’s key sites (without daring into the deep and dangerous Delph) on our Worsley explorer. These include the 1760 Packet House, redesigned in the Victorian era into an elaborate black-and-white structure, outside which the world’s first steamboat was built in 1780 – some thirty years before the better-known New Orleans vessels that cross the Mississippi first appeared; St mark’s Church, designed by that grand Gothicist George Gilbert Scott; the Alphabet Bridge; the Nail House; the boatyards and the old village green. Who knows? We may see one of the famous locals: Ryan Giggs or Russell Watson. How can so much be packed into so compact a locale?