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Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Description: A 127 mile, cross-Pennine route, from Leeds River Lock, where it joins the Aire and Calder Navigation, to Liverpool.

History: Promoted by Acts of 1720, 1770, 1783, 1790, 1794 and 1819. Over fifty miles of waterway open by early 1774. The Bingley Five Rise Locks were opened on the 21st March 1774. Five laden boats descended the locks watched by thousands of people. Burnley Embankment (designed by Robert Whitworth, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company Engineer) started in 1795. Gannow tunnel was completed in early 1801. The whole canal was fully opened in 1816.

See Priestley's Navigable Rivers and Canals for more information.

January 1720

Promoted by Act.

January 1766

John Longbotham

He proposed a canal from Leeds to Liverpool, according to Joseph Priestley.

January 1768

Robert Whitworth

He did most of the field work for John Longbotham's plan for the canal.

Early January 1768

John Longbotham

He planned a route from the Aire & Calder Navigation at Leeds to Liverpool via Gargrave, down the valley of the Lancashire rivers Calder and Ribble to near Preston and Ormskirk.

January 1769

Henry Berry

Engaged, with Richard Melling, to check P P Burdett's revised line for the western end of the canal.

January 1769

Robert Whitworth

He was sent by Brindley to check the line surveyed by John Eyes and Richard Melling and found that there was an error of 35 feet in the height of Burnley embankment.

January 1769

John Eyes

Did a survey with Richard Melling for a line of canal that went through Burnley. Their survey was checked by Robert Whitwoth who found a 35 feet error in the levels at Rishton.

Mid January 1769

Richard Melling

Did a survey with John Eyes for a line of canal that went through Burnley. Their survey was checked by Robert Whitwoth who found a 35 feet error in the levels at Rishton.

Late January 1769

Richard Melling

Engaged, with Henry Berry, to check P P Burdett's revised line for the western end of the canal.

January 1769

James Brindley

He largely approved John Longbotham's plan for the canal.

January 1769

John Longbotham

James Brindley largely approved his plan for the canal.

14th June 1769

James Brindley

He was called in by the Yorkshire committee to advise on a new line surveyed on the instruction of the Lancashire committee. He asked Robert Whitworth to check the line.

14th June 1769

John Longbotham

Took a letter to James Brindley, on behalf of some of the Lancashire committee, asking for his views on proposed changes to the Lancashire part of the canal route.

14th June 1769

Richard Beck

Instructed to assist P P Burdett in a survey for the canal.

14th June 1769

P P Burdett

Instructed to survey a proposed line for the canal assisted by Richard Beck.

11th December 1769

James Brindley

A meeting was held at the Black Bull in Burnley at which his estimates for the rival Lancashire lines were given. 174,324 for the 66 miles proposed by John Longbotham and 240,881 for P P Burdett's 83 miles.

11th December 1769

John Longbotham

It was agreed at a general meeting that his line for the canal should be adopted.

January 1770

Promoted by Act.

January 1770

John Longbotham

He is appointed clerk of works and later when James Brindley asked to be relieved from his post as cheif engineer he takes on this role as well.

May 1770

James Brindley

Was appointed chief engineer with a salary of 400. Afterwards he asked to be released from this commitment and the job went to the clerk of works, John Longbotham.

January 1772

William Jessop

He was called in check John Longbotham's levels between Shaw Green and Liverpool.

October 1772

John Longbotham

His contract is renewed and he is paid 500 a year for his full time employment.

January 1774

Bingley Three Rise and Bingley Five Rise staircase locks opened.

January 1774

Over fifty miles of waterway open by early 1774.

January 1774

The Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal were opened on the 21st March 1774. Five laden boats descended the locks watched by thousands of people.

June 1775

John Longbotham

He resigned from the company after the committee had complained of him not spending enough effort to the canal. He had recently bought coalmines at Upholland.

January 1777

The following Staircase Locks were built Dobson, Dowley Gap, Field, Kirkstall Forge, Newlay and Oddy.

January 1777

William Jessop

He was called in to advise on the canal line below Armley.

July 1777

Richard Owen

He was appointed engineer.

Summer January 1782

Richard Owen

He is discharged from his post of engineer.

January 1789

Robert Whitworth

He reported on the cost of completing the canal, which he estimated at 169,818 including Foulridge Tunnel on the summit. This he thought "compared with what has been done on other canal, will be a small affair".

January 1790

Promoted by Act.

January 1790

Robert Whitworth

He became engineer, assisted by his younger son William.

January 1790

William Whitworth

His father took up the post as engineer and he acted as his assistant.

November 1790

James Fletcher

Was appointed engineer for the Yorkshire side of the canal under Robert Whitworth.

January 1791

Josiah Clowes

Was asked his opinion on Foulridge Tunnel and possible alternatives to it.

January 1791

John Longbotham

He produces another route for the Lanchire section of the canal in response to Robert Whitworth's line.

January 1791

John Rennie

He surveyed a branch from the Rochdale Canal's line at Todmorden through Holme Chapel, Ormerod, Burnley Ridge and Colne to the summit above Barrowford Locks. An alternative junction near Burnley was planned in case the company decided to take their line that way.

January 1791

Robert Whitworth

Much of his time was occupied by the 1,640 yard, 17 foot wide, Foulridge tunnel that was to have 8 feet headroom above water level. He intended that 120 yards of it would be built on the cut and cover system. He was asked by some proprietors if a open summit level would not be cheaper and defended his plans.

July 1791

Robert Whitworth

He and Joseph Preistley were instructed to survey a line from the Leeds & Liverpool at Euxton to Red Moss, the proposed ending of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal extension.

January 1794

Promoted by Act.

January 1795

Burnley Embankment (designed by Robert Whitworth, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company Engineer) started.

January 1795

Robert Whitworth

Following the appointment of Samuel Fletcher as resident engineer and in view of his own other commitments he continued as engineer at half salary.

Autumn January 1795

Samuel Fletcher

He was appointed resident engineer.

April 1799

Samuel Fletcher

Was placed in charge of the section of canal to Enfield (Clayton-le-Moors).

April 1799

Joseph Fletcher

Was given the job of assisting his brother Samuel on the section of canal to Enfield (Clayton-le-Moors).

June 1800

John Longbotham

He asked the company for a small annual stipend saying he was in "the decline of life" and without employment. In return for some papers he held he was advanced some small amounts and the company paid his funeral expenses of 40.

January 1801

Gannow tunnel was completed in early 1801.

January 1804

James Fletcher

Appointed joint surveyor with his uncle Joseph Fletcher.

January 1804

Joseph Fletcher

Appointed joint surveyor with his nephew James Fletcher.

January 1805

James Fletcher

Reported jointly with Joseph Fletcher on alternative links to the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal.

January 1805

Joseph Fletcher

Reported jointly with James Fletcher on alternative links to the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal.

January 1816

Fully opened.

January 1816

John Rennie

He reported that if through trade increased the summit would be short of water in dry seasons. He suggested that priorty be given to the more profitable merchandise traffic rather than have the water used by cargoes such as limestone which paid lower tolls. He also recommended the enforcement of the 20 ton rule under the 1770 Act which allowed for a minumum toll at the twenty ton rate for boats carrying less or empty boats.

January 1819

Promoted by Act.

January 1823

George, junior Leather

He reported on the cost of coal carried by the Lancaster and Leeds & Liverpool canal routes and the effects of the various costs on the trade carried by both companies.

Autumn January 1824

James Fletcher

He supervised the work of repairing the recently colapsed section of Foulridge Tunnel, for which he was granted an increase in salary and 100 guineas "in consideration of his extraordinary exertions in repairing the tunnel".

January 1825

George Stephenson

His route for a Liverpool & manchester Railway was defeated by opposition from the canal company supported by the Sankey Brook, Ashton and Peak Forest companies.

January 1827

Walmsley Stanley

Was appointed resident engineer for the Liverpool side of the canal.

January 1827

Abinus Martin

Was for a short time resident engineer at Liverpool before Walmsley Stanley.

January 1828

James Fletcher

He reported together with Walmsley Stanley, his fellow joint engineer, on alternative proposals to improve the River Douglas below Tarleton or to build a new canal parallel to the river.

January 1828

Walmsley Stanley

He reported together with James Fletcher, his fellow joint engineer, on alternative proposals to improve the River Douglas below Tarleton or to build a new canal parallel to the river.

July 1837

John Leather

While working as part of George Leather & Son he reported in favour of proposals for a new lock at Leeds to connect the canal to the River Aire above the weir.

Spring January 1839

James Fletcher

He reported together with Walmsley Stanley, his fellow joint engineer, and Robert Nicholson, the law clerk, on proposals from the Leeds & Armley Navigation Company to build a new River Aire lock.

Spring January 1839

Walmsley Stanley

He reported together with James Fletcher, his fellow joint engineer, and Robert Nicholson, the law clerk, on proposals from the Leeds & Armley Navigation Company to build a new River Aire lock.

January 1840

James Fletcher

He suggests that Foulridge Tunnel should be opened out to ease congestion and estimates the cost at 23,000.

January 1843

Charles Vignoles

He was engaged to examine the plans of the Liverpool & Bury Railway where it proposed to cross the canal in Liverpool.

January 1844

Walmsley Stanley

He became engineer for the canal following the death of James Fletcher.

January 1844

Thomas Fletcher

Was first resident engineer on the Yorkshire side of the canal then assistant to Walmsley Stanley when he became engineer.

January 1884

Edward Filliter

Estimated a cost of 45,000 for the Winterburn reservior which was to hold 284 million gallons of water.

17th August 1893

Henry Rofe

As consultant engineer he attended the official opening of the new Winterburn reservoir and presented the Chairman with a silver key in a silver box, with which to perform the opening ceremony.

17th August 1893

A W Stansfeld

As assistant engineer for the eastern side of the canal he took part in the oppening ceremony of the Winterburn Reservoir.

January 1896

A W Stansfeld

Now a director of the company he discussed with Bingley Urban District Council his scheme for generating electricty by water power from the canal. No agreement on charges was reached.

January 1898

Henry Rofe

He reported that a second reservior above Winterburn reservior could be built for 126,000 and some trial borings were made but it was not built.

January 1899

R H White

He estimated tha it would cost another 44,357 to complete the work that was taking place on the Barrowford to Blackburn pound.

Spring January 1902

R H White

A committee of shareholders formed in Bradford in 1901 to investigate the company's affairs reported. They thought the condition of the canal was a credit to him as engineer.

November 1904

A W Stansfeld

He suggested that as he was working full time for the company in his role as managing director he would prefer to become a paid general manager. The board did not agree to this but agreed to increase his salary.

May 1907

A W Stansfeld

Following the death of the company engineer, R H White, he resigned his directorship and became general manager and engineer.

January 1924

A W Stansfeld

He retired as general manager and engineer but was retained as consultant.

January 1926

Robert Davidson

He was appointed Engineer and General Manager.

1st January 1948

Robert Davidson

The canal was nationalised and he became a member of the Docks & Inland Waterways Executive.

January 1955

IWA National Rally at Skipton held 15th and 21st August.

January 1956

Sailing Through England by John Seymour, Published by Eyre & Spottiswoode - Account of a long journey on a dutch barge, on East Coast waterways and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

January 1965

IWA National Rally at Blackburn.

January 1968

IWA National Rally at Liverpool.

January 1972

Leeds and Liverpool Canal Craft by G Wheat, Published by Northern Counties Carriers.

January 1977

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal by D C Lyons, Published by Hendon Publishing Co.

January 1983

IWA National Festival at Wigan.

January 1992

Around and About The Leeds & Liverpool Canal by Mike Clarke, Published by Milepost Research -Comprehensive tourist guide. Illustrated with coloured maps, line drawings and photographs.

January 1996

Walks from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal by Mary Welsh, Published by Cicerone Press - Description of 34 walks.

January 1999

Burscough Boatmen: Their Marriages and their Boats by Robert Cheetham-Houghton , Published by Countyvise - A history, with photographs, of the boating families of this small town on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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