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The Islington Branch Canal left the main line of the Ashton Canal between locks 1 and 2 in Ancoats.
Although it was only 1,034 yards long (945m) it was, in its prime, an important industrial branch and it had its own short arm leading to private wharfs.
It was lock free and throughout its working life it was extensively used. It had coal, sand and salt wharfs, a scrap iron wharf and various works along its banks.
An interesting works was Molineux, Webb, & Company’s Glass Works situated at the head of the branch where flint glass products were made.
In 1801, Samuel Oldknow, then the Chairman of the Peak Forest Canal Company, offered an Edward Stelfox £50 towards the cost of building two lime kilns on the banks of the Ashton Canal on the condition that he burned limestone brought along the Peak Forest Canal. The site of these kilns is unknown but it is suspected that they were somewhere on this branch.
The Islington Branch Canal remained in use until the 1950s but by this time it was slowly being eliminated. However, part of it remained open and British Waterways now has a yard there.