Over the last year or so we have got used to the bright, yellow water taxis, or Waxis, plying the rivers and canals between the city centre to Salford Quays and on to the Trafford Centre. One route starts in Castlefield and goes to Media City and then on to the Trafford Centre. A second route is being started that will eventually go from Victoria Station, along the River Irwell to Spinningfields and then to Media City. Given the grid lock that can happen in Manchester in the rush hour, a sedate ride to work along the canals and rivers is a viable and pleasant alternative. Tourists enjoy the ride as well. Over the summer I’ll take a trip and see what it’s like. It’ll give be a different perspective on the city.

I got chatting to the guys running the system. One of the Waxis was moored on the New Bailey side of the river. I wondered about a third route along the Rochdale Canal from Piccadilly Station to Media City. There must be a constant stream of BBC types,and other media bods, arriving from London and wanting to get to Media City. The route has a dedicated tram route already. They said no. There are too many locks on the section of the canal between the station and Castlefield. If you’re having a drink at one of the bars on Canal Street or Deansgate Locks it’s always fun watching the boats negotiate the locks but it does take an age. Especially when they don’t make it. 

The duck races were supposed to start at the Bridge Street bridge and finish under the Irwell Street bridge passing through Spinningfields and New Bailey. The problem was there was a stiff breeze blowing across the river at right angles so they changed the direction of the race starting at the footbridge and finishing at the start. As they say, ‘in Manchester we do things differently.’

Then another problem happened. The wind blew all the ducks, in both races, into the New Bailey bank where they stubbornly stayed. So the Waxi saved the day, ran up and down the river creating waves that eventually got the ducks moving in the direction of the start, sorry, finish!

Pictures of the Corporate Duck Race with the Waxi trying to move them along…

I was quite pleased that I caught the launch of the main duck race with a golden shower (behave!) of ducks being dropped into the river…

The ducks were reluctant to swim. They all clumped together in the middle of the river having a meeting about how to deal with the race, and then decided to follow their corporate buds into the bank…

« »