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The Man Who Started The Manchester vs Liverpool Rivalry

“Liverpool were always the ones and nothing will change,” said Ferguson at this weekend’s press conference. “It’s nothing to do with our position in the league. It’s about the history, geography. What’s his name, who built the ship canal? Mason? No it wasnae Mason… It’s coming… It begins with an A. Adamson. Correct? Daniel Adamson was the engineer behind the construction of the canal. He took all the industry away from Liverpool to Manchester. From that day on, the rivalry between the cities was there. Therefore, it’s not just football; geographically, there is fantastic competition. Of course, being the two most successful clubs, that has intensified over the years and that won’t change. If we two were bottom of the league or in the second division it would be the same.”

Daniel Adamson left school at the age of thirteen and became an apprentice to Timothy Hackworth, engineer to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, with whom he went on to serve as a draughtsman and engineer. By 1850, he had risen to become general manager of the Stockton and Darlington engine works and moved to become manager of Heaton Foundry in Stockport. He specialised in engine and boiler making, initially following designs created by Hackworth, making and exporting the renowned “Manchester Boilers”.

Liverpool were one of the world’s leading ports at the time, whilst Manchester was booming in the cotton trade thanks to mills. Raw cotton imported to England was spun in the mills of Manchester and it was said that Manchester clothed a quarter of the world. However, the material all had to come from over 30 miles away through Liverpool, and the Port of Liverpool set high charges on the importation of the raw materials destined for our cotton mills. Manchester decided that something had to be done, and that’s when the idea of the Manchester Ship Canal first came about, with the aim of by-passing Liverpool to import to the raw cotton.

Adamson lived in Didsbury and in 1882 arranged a meeting at his home to discuss the Manchester Ship Canal project, attended by the mayors of Manchester and surrounding towns, leaders of commerce and industry, bankers and financiers. Adamson was elected chairman of the provisional committee promoting the Ship Canal, and was at the forefront in pushing the scheme through Parliament in the face of intense opposition from railway companies and port interests in Liverpool.

The ship canal was given the go ahead and construction began in 1887. Adamson died at home in 1890 and is buried at Southern Cemetery in Manchester. The ship canal wasn’t in operation until 1894 though so, sadly, he never saw the Ship Canal in use.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. dv-ant says:

    nice little history lesson – cheers scott

  2. wiuru says:

    Thanks for that Scott .

  3. RedHairedDevil says:

    I love reading info like this, history will always triumph over money when it comes to rivalries.

    Thanks Scott. :)

  4. Proverb says:

    Wow this is going to be damn huge
    Hopefully we thrash them bin dippers.

    Me self in vacation taking my time to comment on this freaking unbelievably huge encounter.
    Day to all ROM users!!!

  5. mansuy united says:

    Quality post on the history. Thanks for that!

  6. belfast red. says:

    Very intresting, never knew the guys name.

  7. unitedunitedunitedunited says:


  8. markynorbs says:

    That where the original phrase “robbing scouser’s” came from.

  9. Gorse Hill Red says:

    The Liverpool port are still robbing bastards. We have to import containers through Felixstowe in Suffolk because Liverpool port detained container after container and charged us for the effort!


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