The Trent & Mersey Canal was completed in 1777 at the instigation of pottery manufactures in Stoke-on-Trent to provide a safe method of transport for their finished products and also improve the movement of the bulk raw materials. James Brindley had conceived the idea of linking the main river navigations of the country, and this formed part of his network, linking the river Trent at Shardlow with the Bridgewater Canal at Preston Brook, crossing Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.
In Cheshire, the canal runs parallel to the Weaver Navigation for much of its route because the trustees of the Weaver Navigation would not contemplate links with the canal, for fear of losing trade to it. However, they did finance the Anderton Lift (recently restored) that takes boats between the two waterways near Northwich.
The canal forms part of the Cheshire Ring (a 67 mile circuit around the Bridgewater, Trent & Mersey, Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals), which is a popular holiday route on the waterways.