In 1768 an application to Parliament was made for an act to create a navigable canal from Chester to Middlewich; this was to link up with the Trent and Mersey canal at Middlewich.

That canal would become the perpetual property of those who would subscribe in shares not less than £100, nor more than £400. A meeting was set with Lord Grosvenor in Chester on November 25, 1768, for any subscribers wishing to contribute. In 1775 a meeting was held by commissioners at Barbridge, looking into the application to provide evidence for parliament.

Unfortunately, not enough funding was promised, and there were other problems. The canal course from Chester to both Middlewich and Nantwich was surveyed accurately by Mr Thomas Yeoman of London. The cost of the undertaking was £40,800, and half of that sum had been promised. The bill was passed in 1772, but work was not started due to a lack of funds.

The Trent and Mersey canal that the Middlewich branch planned to join would lose business as their circuitous route would be cut short.

It took 55 years to 1827 for work to commence on the new canal. Sadly for the businessmen, this period also saw the beginning of the railways.

The new canal had to stop 72 feet from the Trent and Mersey as it could not join that canal for financial reasons. Eventually, two years later, in 1829, an agreement was reached to allow Trent and Mersey to open the smallest canal in Great Britain.

The 72-foot-long Wardle Canal from the Middlewich Branch into the Trent and Mersey inclusive of a lock joining the two canals. Boats passing through this little canal had to pay a hefty toll for the privilege.

In 1846 the canal became part of the Shropshire Union canal which was taken over by the LNW Railway a year later. In 1888 a narrow-gauge line was built on the towpath to experiment with hauling canal boats with a small steam engine, but this was never brought into service, and also, in this year, tolls on the Wardle Canal ended.

In 1923, after the railways were amalgamated, it came under the LMS railway.

In 1944, the LMS closed 175 miles of the canals they owned, but the Middlewich Branch escaped and, under nationalisation in 1948, became part of British Waterways. Now the canal can be enjoyed by holidaymakers, and it is now free to pass through the little Wardle Canal!