Greening Up The City Centre Canals Through Clean City Fund


Bridgewater Hall Basin, just off The Rochdale Canal, has been improved with the addition of planted islands, the second phase of a partnership programme to improve the green and blue parts of the city centre.  City Centre Councillors lobbied for funding through the Clean City Fund to breath life in to this underused basin next to Bridgewater Hall. 

A partnership between designers BDP, The National Trust, Biomatrix Water and Manchester City Council have created a series of active floating islands. The design and planting takes inspiration from the immediacy of Bridgewater Hall, it’s music and reflected colours. Many of the plants will provide a food source for bees, insects, birds, bats, fish and other wildlife. Under water the islands have artificial “roots” to encourage fish spawning and bacterial grown which will improve water quality and reduce pollution.. 

Supporting and helping to deliver the project was the City Centre Community group: Friends of Rochdale 9 (FoR9). This group in partnership with the Canal and River Trust was set up two years ago with support from City Centre Councillors to create a volunteer team to look after the canal and 9 locks along the Rochdale Canal from Piccadilly Basin to Castlefield Basin. They meet to clean and green the canal route every second Sunday of the month. Volunteers from the group along with City Council staff helped plant and then launch the floating islands. The group will help with the on going maintenance although another feature of the design was to make the islands accessible for cleaning and ensure there are no rubbish trap points. 


Already installed, also funded by the Clean City Fund and supported by local Councillors are similar planting schemes along sections of the Rochdale canal on Canal Street and between Princess Street and Oxford Road. 

Key to the project is Jon Stopp, who manages the volunteer group.  He said: "its great to be involved in projects which liven up the waterspace in the city centre, makes it a more pleasing and relaxing place to be and improve wildlife habitats- imagine kingfishers and heron in city more often.” 

Local Councillor Joan Davies was at the launch and welcomed the project: “It’s great to see a community group we have helped set up be at the forefront of this project. We have been able to access Clean City Funds, from our share of airport profits, to get this going and I want to see more projects like this that benefit city centre residents and visitors.”


Local resident and volunteer, William Jeavons said: “Coming along each month to clean and help maintain the canal is good fun and offers a way for me to improve where I live. I didn’t want to miss the chance of helping to plant and launch the islands. It’s good to see Manchester City Council investing in the greening of our city canals and supporting its heritage.”

You can email the FoR9 for more information on or visit, their facebook page FoR9 and twitter @myrochdalecanal. 


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