The Manchester Ship Canal Company was formed in 1882 with the aim of linking Manchester to the sea via a navigable canal and river route. The idea had been floating around since 1660, but it was the Manchester manufacturer Daniel Adamson who brought together the men who could actually make it happen in June of 1882. The bill that they proposed to Parliament was initially rejected, but was finally passed in May 1885, and was known as the Manchester Ship Canal Act 1885.
The ship canal took six years to complete at a cost of just over £15 million, equivalent to about £1.65 billion in 2011, and measures thirty-six miles in length, from the Mersey Estuary at Eastham on the Wirral to Manchester.
I’ve not been able to determine what year they were granted their coat of arms, but what’s interesting about it is that bees are featured in two location, because it combines elements of the arms of Manchester, Salford and Warrington, as can be seen below.
Arms – 1st Gules, three bendlets enhanced, or, on a chief argent, thereon on waves of the sea, a steamship, proper (for Manchester).
2nd. Azure, semee of bees, volant, a shuttle between three garbs, or, on a chief of the last, a bale corded, proper, between two millrinds, sable (for Salford).
3rd. Argent, six lionettes, three, two, and one, gules (for Warrinton).
Crest – 1st, A terrestial globe, semee of bees, volant, all proper.
2nd. A demi-lion, argent, therefrom flowing to the sinister, a flag/
3rd. A sword and mace in saltire, the sword enfiled with a wreath of laurel, both surmounted by a scroll bearing the inscription “Anno Regina Victoria”.
Supporters – On the dexter side an herladic antelope, argent, attired, collared, and chain reflexted over the back, or; on the sinister side, a lion guardant, or, murally crowned, gules, each charged on the shoulder with a rose of the last.
Motto – “Navigation and Commerce.”
The arms can be seen in the city centre adorning the exterior of Ship Canal House on King Street. The building was constructed for the company in 1927 and was designed Harry S Fairhurst in a neo-classical style. The building remained the premises of The Manchester Ship Canal Company until it was sold in 1969. Today it is home to Virgin Money and Steak and Lobster, amongst other businesses.
In the lobby you can still find a tribute to Daniel Adamson, the First Chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal Company.