In 2016 Knitters and crocheters from across Salford took up their needles to brighten the Bridgewater Canal and take a fresh look at heritage – domestic meets industrial heritage.
Artist and expert knitter Rachael Elwell created unique designs inspired by the patterns and shapes that can be found along the canal – the stone masons’ marks, the architecture and the landscape.
Over 2,000 knitted and crocheted squares were sewn together by volunteers on to 4ft high giant letters which were installed on the canal bank. These local knitters dedicated hours of time, lots of enthusiasm and endless cups of tea to the task!
The finished artwork was installed from October 2016 to March 2017 as a temporary feature in Barton Aqueduct Pocket Park on top of Brindley's original stone aqueduct acting as a link to the stonemasons' marks below but also highlighting the other feat of canal engineering that is Barton Swing Aqueduct.
At the time the orginal stone aqueduct was built in 1761 no-one had ever attempted to carry water in a canal over water in a river. It seemed like madness but the Duke of Bridgewater’s engineer, James Brindley believed in it and the labourers and stonemasons he employed made it happen.
The stone aqueduct was demolished in 1893 to make way for bigger ships on the Manchester Ship Canal and the Barton Swing Aqueduct was built to carry the Bridgewater Canal over the Ship Canal. The aqueduct was and is the world’s first and only bridge to swing open while keeping hold of its water.
The finished installation #SWINGIEST created a unique tribute to the canal by bringing local people together to make new friends, learn new skills, take a fresh look at their heritage and create a vibrant piece of art to capture people’s interest.
We are grateful to The Booth Charities for providing additional funding for this project.