This week UNESCO added 22 sites along the 2,000-year old Silk Road through China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to its list of World Heritage Sites along with China's Grand Canal. The Grand Canal dates back nearly 2,500 years and at almost 1,800km long is the longest artificial waterway in the world.
What has that to do with Britain's canals? Well, the world-famous 'Silk Road' begins in China and ends in Macclesfield on the Macclesfield Canal in Cheshire. China began producing silk fabrics in 3,500BC, but the practice didn't reach England until the 18th century. High production costs in London drove silk merchants to seek lower prices in provincial towns such as Macclesfield, where hand-loom weaving in garret houses was gradually being replaced by weaving in large mills. At the height of the Silk Industry, Macclesfield had become the world's greatest producer of finished silk, with 120 mills and dye houses, and silk is still produced there, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Timely then for us to have written a feature on the Macclesfield Canal for our friends at www.coolplaces.co.uk. Find out some of the highlights and reasons to visit the Macclesfield Canal
- and why not take a trip to one of Macclesfield's four Silk Museums while you're there?