Getting into the spirit of Project Cargo

09 September 2019

Trafford Park Docks played a key role in the rise of the North West’s shipping industry after the Manchester Ship Canal was opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, but the berth later fell into disuse.

Esprit Warehousing and Docks invested nearly £250,000 into refurbishing the derelict site in 2015 including new offices and warehousing. Like Peel Ports, Esprit is passionate about making use of the Manchester Ship Canal rather than relying on shipping cargo via the road network.

The firm’s vision is for Trafford Docks to be brought back to their former glory once again, bringing bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass into Manchester via the Peel Ports owned Manchester Ship Canal.


Esprit regularly works with large manufacturers, suppliers and haulage companies predominately in the North West of England. Earlier this year it was approached by Gillie Blair through Peel Ports to receive a 150 tonne National Grid electricity transformer from Korea, via Rotterdam to its final destination in Oldham.

Esprit typically handle cargo of this size and weight two or three times per year and draw on this experience to facilitate such specialist loads. Utilising the dock’s modified facilities and storage solutions to ensure the smooth onward transportation of such vast project cargo.


Esprit knew that in order to get the transformer as close to its end destination as possible, it needed to use the Manchester Ship Canal. With its recent refurbishment of the Trafford Park Docks, the transformer was able to be handled expertly at all stages along the canal as it made its way to Oldham.

The transformer floated down the Manchester Ship Canal aboard the MVC Ruby, arriving at Trafford Docks where it was safely stored before leaving escorted on its way to Oldham via road.

Manchester Ship Canal is the ideal solution for large cargo and bulk cargo entering the North West. This is chiefly due to the fact that the waterway can take gross tonnage of 4,500 tonnes. This is the equivalent of 150 trucks driving those goods by road, reducing carbon, congestion and reducing overall costs by cutting handling times.

Indeed, Highways England insists anything oversized must minimise road journey and ship as close to final destination as possible, meaning using the waterway makes even more sense.

Trafford Docks on the Manchester Ship Canal is officially registered as a berth that can accommodate both oversized and overweight cargo, meaning it is perfect for handling often awkwardly sized and shaped cargo. Originally a dry dock the facility has a very strong structure, meaning it can accommodate large cranes within the dock area, making the retrieval of goods far easier and safer.

A cast of talented professionals were involved in the safe transport of the National Grid transformer along the canal and onward to Oldham. Gillie Blair managed the entire operation, while Kuehne-Nagel handled shipping, ALE Haulier took care of the onward journey to site and Ainscough Cranes were on hand to safely maneouver the cargo when required.

Graham Dixon, Managing Director, Esprit Group Ltd, said: “Our mission is based around great service, value throughout our customers operation and a professional approach to safety. We’re also proud to have, what we consider, the best trained and most conscientious team in the North West, working throughout Trafford Park, Manchester and Liverpool. Working with Peel Ports has been invaluable when looking to find practicable solutions for our customers. We’re delighted with the successful shipment along the canal of National Grid’s vitally important cargo.

Zara Giles, Head of Commercial (Mersey) Peel Ports Group, said: “Esprit and Peel Ports Group have been working closely together to provide the best solutions to customers for some time now and we’re delighted to see the successful transportation of the National Grid Transformer earlier this year. At Peel Ports, we’re focused on accommodating the needs of our customers, and make sure we offer up expert solutions and work closely with the entire supply chain to make transporting goods - no matter their size – as simple as possible.

To learn more about Peel Ports Group and Project Cargo expertise visit, or contact Zara Giles, Head of Commercial, The Port of Liverpool