THE go-ahead has been given for a new museum documenting the history of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Trafford’s planning committee approved the plans which will see the museum built on Barton Dock Road in what is currently an Argos distribution depot.

Historic machinery relating to the use of the canal could go on show in the warehouse.

The applicants, Peel Holdings, who own the canal and the nearby Trafford Centre, sought to change the existing 31,000 sq.m depot into the museum.

Planners recommended approval subject to a £300,000 boost towards public transport by Peel.

No external alterations have been proposed but special links could give shoppers access to the museum and 954 car parking spaces will be provided for visitors, although the council suggested there should be 1,550 spaces.

In addition coach drop off points will be installed as well as a Hackney Carriage taxi rank. There will also be cycle links and pedestrian routes.

Construction of the canal began in November 1887 with the Manchester Ship Canal Company raising £5m before work began.

The project contractor was Thomas Walker, an experienced and celebrated civil engineer who had already been involved in the building of the Severn Tunnel for the Great Western Railway Company.

Walker estimated it would take four-and-a-half years to complete at a cost of £5.25m. His estimates were far from realistic and the canal cost more than £15m by the time it opened in 1894.

The wages for the 16,000 navvies working on the canal accounted for more than £1,000,000.

Walker's death before its completion also caused a severe loss of confidence in the company and the withdrawal of many financial backers.

Construction was fraught with many other problems - particularly boggy ground and bad weather, which halted work on numerous occasions through flooding.

Construction methods were state of the art and equipment included more than 100 steam excavators, seven earth dredgers, 6,300 railway wagons, 173 locomotives, 124 steam cranes - which could go on show at the museum.

One major factor in its success was Trafford Park, which saw many companies locating, or relocating, their industries in Trafford, due in no small part to the canal.

Peel Holdings have yet to release details of the museum’s exhibits.