Facts and Figures

The Manchester Ship Canal is a 56 kilometre linear port providing access for shipping to docks and berthing facilities along its full length from Eastham on Merseyside to Salford in Greater Manchester.

There are five sets of locks on the Canal which besides helping maintain water levels also lift vessels a total of 17 metres on their way to Manchester.

The first set of locks at the entrance of the canal at Eastham hold the water level against the variations in the tidal rise and fall in the Mersey Estuary. There are two lock chambers measuring 182.88m x 24.38m and 106.68m x 15.24m.

The four other sets of locks which each raise the canal approximately 4.5m are located at Latchford, Irlam, Barton and Mode Wheel. They are of identical size each consisting of two lock chambers measuring 182.88m x 19.81m and 106.68 x 13.71m

Additionally, at Eastham there is a separate lock entrance measuring 245.97m x 30.48m serving the Company's Queen Elizabeth II oil dock.

Queen Elizabeth II Dock - specially designed to handle bulk liquid petroleum products, chemicals and edible oils. Can accommodate vessels of upto 40,000 tonnes deadweight and a draught of up to 10 metres.

Valero Terminals have storage facilities for a wide range of liquid chemicals and petroleum products which are pipeline fed direct from the berths of QE II Dock as well as the Sheerlegs berth.

Sheerlegs Berths – is operated by Valero Terminals. 

Ellesmere Port/Manisty Wharf/North Wall - handle a variety of dry and project cargoes as well as heavy lifts. 
Associated Octel Wharf
- a private wharf owned by Associated Octel.

Shell Chemicals Berth - handling chemicals from the Shell Higher Olefins Plant.

Stanlow Oil Docks are leased by Shell UK Ltd.

Stanlow Lay-by - used by both Cabot Carbon and Castrol UK Ltd for imports of cycle oil and lube oil respectively, as well as Shell UK Ltd.

Ince Coaster Berth & Ince Oil Berth

These berths are used by Shell UK Ltd. mainly for the export of their manufactured chemical petroleum products.

 Weaver Sluices - 10 No. gates 9.18 metres (30ft) wide capable of discharging upwards of 1000 tonnes of water per second. Improvements include gate refurbishment, automating the machinery and installing a back-up power supply.

White Salt Berth operated by Salt Union. 

Runcorn Lay-by - handled 639,000 tonnes of liquid cargo last year for INEDS, NSAA and EVC. Main cargoes handled include caustic soda, Vinyl Chloride Monomer and Liquid Sulphur.

Runcorn Docks - specialises in handling a wide variety of bulk cargoes.  Investment in new sheds, deepening the dock and handling facilities has seen steady increases in tonnage.  

Runcorn Bridge - this is the first bridge which restricts height of ships navigating the canal to 24.25 metres (79'-6'') above normal water levels.

New Workshops,  Runcorn Docks - Maintenance workshops whose work includes lockgate and small floating craft refurbishment.

Northwich Road Swingbridge - refurbished at a cost of £350K.

Knutsford Road Swingbridge - refurbished at a cost of £300K.

Latchford Locks - first of 4 locks lifting the water level by 57ft to Salford Quays.

Partington North – operated by Univar.

Partington South – operated by Shell Chemicals and Nova Chemicals.

Barton Bridge - steelwork refurbished and painted.

Barton Swing Aqueduct - this is where the Bridgewater Canal passes over the Ship Canal - said to be a major engineering feat. The Aqueduct carries 800 tonnes of water when being swung and has a gross weight of 1450 tonnes.

Irwell Park Wharf – operated by EMR Ltd.

Cerestar Wharf – operated by Cerestar Ltd.

Weaste Wharf – operated by Blue Circle Cement.

Dry Docks - No.3 dock being used to handle Rank Hovis's grain which is being barged by K.D. Marine Ltd from Liverpool, instead of previously using road vehicles from Liverpool - taking 7,500 road movements annually off our roads.

Every year the Company has to dredge on average 850,000 cubic metres of sand and silt which enters the Canal from the rivers which feed into it. The rivers Irwell, Mersey and Weaver drain a total catchment in the northwest of about 2000sq.km.

In 2004 the Canal handled 6.5m tonnes of traffic.