The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has named a North West landmark as one of the top 200 influential people and projects, past and present, which illustrate how civil engineering has shaped the world and transformed people’s lives for the better.
The Manchester Ship Canal, which was the world’s largest river navigation canal when it opened in 1894, was nominated by ICE members and selected by an expert panel, as a chosen project that illustrates civil engineering at its finest.
The project is being recognised as part of a scheme to highlight 200 inspirational and world-changing projects from around the globe throughout 2018 to mark the ICE’s 200th anniversary.
The Manchester Ship Canal was one of the most important civil engineering projects of the late Victorian period. It was built to cut the time and cost of transporting goods between Manchester and Liverpool by road and rail, turning a landlocked city into a port by allowing ocean-going cargo ships to sail from the Mersey estuary into the centre of Manchester.
The canal, which is 36 miles long, was a response to Liverpool port authorities increasing charges for handling goods. Manchester businesses backed the scheme because they wanted to cut their costs. It remained a key part of Manchester’s economy for over half a century, until traffic declined in the 1970s and 1980s, when many ships became too big to navigate the canal.
Umar Saleem, a civil engineer at Mott McDonald who helped make the video said: “Civil engineers are often at the heart of change in ways that are not always obvious. They find solutions to a range of challenges faced by societies and, in doing so, change the world around us. When first constructed, the Manchester ship Canal was an undisputedly important piece of infrastructure that changed the nature of commerce in the region for years to come. Today, over 100 years later, the Canal and Docks continue to be a driver for redevelopment in Manchester. Who knows what the next set of challenges will bring?”
Emma Antrobus, Director ICE North West, said: “In terms of contribution to society, the Manchester Ship canal is right up there as being an incredibly significant project. The project was massive, costing £15 million, £1.5 billion by today's standards, and taking 1,600 people to build it. Projects of that scale are few and far between these days, and are usually publically funded. But this was the brainchild of a group of businesses in Manchester who used their nous to innovate and create an exceptional solution to their problem and changed Manchester forever.”
On the 200 Projects campaign, Nathan Baker, Engineering Knowledge Director at ICE, said: “Our research has shown that the majority of both adults and young people don’t know what a civil engineer does and most can’t identify a single UK civil engineering project. We aim to change these perceptions with 200 People and Projects, explaining not just the importance of civil engineering but how it has directly transformed people’s lives.
"The chosen projects showcase how civil engineering paved the way to modern life and how it continues to tackle the problems of today, safeguarding the future for generations to come. With the world facing unprecedented challenges, such as climate change and the pressures from a rapidly growing population, there has never been a greater need for civil engineers and the vital work they do.”
The Manchester Ship Canal has its own dedicated page on the ICE website, where you can learn about its conception, build and the impact it has had. Visit: ice/northwest and search Manchester Ship Canal.