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Robert Whitworth 1734 - 30 1799

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Robert Whitworth 1734 - 30 1799

Canal engineer at one time assistant to James Brindley.

Relationships: was employed by James Brindley, father of Robert, junior Whitworth and father of William Whitworth.

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1766Huddersfield Broad CanalHe surveyed from the Calder & Hebble at Cooper Bridge to Kings Mill, Huddersfield.
1768Old Main Line (BCN)He and Samuel Simcock worked as James Brindley's assistants on the canal.
1768English & Bristol Channels Ship CanalHe did a survey after James Brindley, for whom he was an assistant, was asked by a group of Taunton men to survey a line for an inter-channel canal.
1768Leeds and Liverpool CanalHe did most of the field work for John Longbotham's plan for the canal.
1768Oxford Canal (Northern Section)He produced a survey showing alternative lines from The Coventry Canal to Hillmorton, the shorter one, from Gosford Green, being 15¾ miles on one level. Compare this with the 26½ mile canal that was actually built between these points.
1769English & Bristol Channel canal schemesHe looked at a proposal for a canal from the Parrett near Langport to Seaton, but not connecting to the sea there.
1769Leeds and Liverpool CanalHe 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.
1769Taunton - Uphill Canal projectHe surveyed a line for the canal under James Brindley's supervision and produced routes from Topsham on the Exe or from Exeter past Cullompton or Tiverton to Wellington and Taunton. The Tone Navigation was the to be used to take craft to Burrow Bridge and from there a second canal would go past Bridgwater, Glastonbury, Wells and Axbridge to Uphill near Weston-Super-Mare.
19 July 1769Stockton & Darlington Canal ProjectBrindley having checked his survey, a joint report is issued proposing a 26 mile 7 furlong canal for 25 ton narrowboats.
1770Andover CanalHe made a survey for a canal down the Anton and Test valleys to Redbridge at the mouth of theTest near Southampton. He estimated 28,982 for a narrow canal and 31,654 for a broad.
1771Reading - Monkey Island Canal projectHe had done the survey for the canal and now supported the Bill before parliament. He thought a 120-ton barge would take 6 hours to travel the canal from Reading to Monkey Island for a toll of ½d per mile.He said it sometimes took 3 hours to pass one flash lock on the Thames.
1772Lancaster CanalHe did a survey and put foward a plan for a line from the Leeds & Liverpool at near Eccleston crossing the Ribble below Penwortham Bridge then west towards Kirkham before turning north then east to Barton. The canl then continued north to Lancaster where it crossed the Lune just below Skerton Bridge.The long 54½ mile pound ended with a rise of 86 feet at Tewitfield before another level pound covered the last 18 miles to Kendal. The committee asked him to find an easier crossing of the Lune and he proposed a higher line locking up 24 feet from the Ribble, a shorter looptowards Kirkham but an additional loop up the Lune to Halton where a shorter aqueduct was needed. This reduced the rise at Tewitfield to 62 feet and the whole rise was around ½ mile longer.
1773Grand Union Regents CanalHe was aked by the City of London to survey a line for a canal from Moorfields to Waltham Abbey and from Moorfields to Marylebone. The line he proposed followed in part the same line as the Regent's Canal was to take, particularly in the curve to Islington but was to pass under the Pentonville Road and over the New River near Sadler's Wells.
February 1775Stourbridge CanalA meeting approved his survey for the canal. His line ran from Stourton on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to Stourbridge. From Wordsley Junction at Stourbridge there was a branch to the Fens on Pensnett Chase where there was to be a reservior. From Lays Junction on the Fens branch a line ran to Black Delph to join the Dudley Canal.
20 December 1777Herefordshire & Gloucestershire CanalHe proposed a canal from Ledbury to Gloucester.
20 December 1777Leominster CanalHe proposed a canal from Hereford through Leominster and Pensax to Stourport.
1779Oxford Canal (Southern Section)He and Samuel Simcock survey the line for the canal extension from Banbury to Oxford.
6 December 1780Stort - Cam Canal projectsOn the 16 Novenber 1779 he was asked prepare a plan for a navigation from Bishop Stortford to Cambridge and reported a route along the Stort valley to near Elsenham then across the watershed into the Granta (Cam) valley to Cambridge.
December 1781Ashby de la Zouch CanalHe had completed his survey for a canal, 31 miles and 3 furlongs in length, from Ashby Woulds through Market Bosworth and Hinckley to the Coventry canal at Griff. He estimated the cost as 46,396.
1782Thames and Severn CanalHe surveyed two possible routes, one from the Stroudwater Canal up the Golden Valley past Cirencester to the Thames, the other from higher up the Severn to the Coln valley on to the Thames at lechlade. He found the first route was shorter, cheaper and better supplied with water. He estimated the cost as 127,916 for a 12 foot barge canal, large enough for Thames barges but not for Severn trows.
September 1783River ThamesIn his role as consultant engineer for the Thames & Severn Canal he and Christopher Chambers, a shareholder of the canal and of the Stroudwater canal as well as being a Thames Commissionner, enquired what improvements the commissioners intended to make to the navigation between Lechlade and Pangbourne.
1784Lechlade - Abingdon Canal projectHe survyed a 22¾ mile line from Kempsford on the Thames & Severn Canal to Abingdon to by-pass 45¾ miles of difficult river navigation.
April 1784Gloucester & Sharpness Ship CanalHe surveyed a new line for the canal about this date. At this time the proposed canal was called the Gloucester Canal.
1785Oakham CanalHe did a survey for a canal from Melton Mowbray to run west of Stapleford, through Leesthorpe and Ashwell to Oakham.
June 1785Forth & Clyde CanalHe became the cheif engineer.
July 1785Forth & Clyde CanalIn a report he proposed that the navigable cut at Grangemouth should be deepened and that the upper end should be widened to relieve pressure on the dam.
August 1785Forth & Clyde CanalHe reported on the proposed extension of the canal fromStockingfield to the Clyde agreeing (with May Millar and John Laurie) that the western entrance should be at Bowling. He estimated the cost of the Kelvin Aqueduct as 2,000 and the whole as 56,456 or 58,901 the depth were increased to 8 feet.
September 1785Forth & Clyde CanalHe suggested that the Townhead reservior and the smaller lochs on the canal route should be raised and that the central part of Dullatur Bog should be made into a reservior by building embankments if the canal depth was to be increased.
October 1785Forth & Clyde CanalHe proposed three new reserviors to supply water by way of the Monkland Canal and that the locks should be made for the Monkland Canal at Blackhill, and a cut to connect Monkland Basin to the end of the Forth & Clyde's Glasgow branch.
August 1786Forth & Clyde CanalHe reported again on water-supplies for the deepening of the canal. The canal could already draw 2,545 lockfuls annually from the Bishop, Woodend, Gartsherrie and Johnston Lochs, 2,245 lockfuls from the Townhead Reservoir and 300 lockfuls from Possil Loch. He estimated that the three reservoirs east of the Monkland would cost f4,466 and fully satisfy their water requirements. The aqueduct which was to take the water from the River Calder to the east end of the Monkland was to cost 561 and a canal 4½ ft deep from the Monkland Basin to Hamiltonhill was estimated as 2,407.
1788Arbroath - Forfar Canal projectHe was employed by George Dempster of Dunnichen to survey a line for a canal from Arbroath to within 2 miles of Forfar that he estimated would cost 17,788.
1789Bo'ness CanalHe surveyed the unfinished canal and reported that 17,763 was required to complete it.
1789Leeds and Liverpool CanalHe 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".
1789River WyeHe surveyed the river for the trustees and put forward two plans for improving navigation on the river and building cuts in different sections of the Wye. The costs were estimated at 27,000 and 48,000.
Before March 1789Andover CanalHe did a survey for the petition for a Bill.
April 1789Forth & Clyde CanalHis constant supervision of work on the nearly completed Kelvin Aqueduct was praised by Patrick Colquhoun, the canal's agent, in a letter to shareholders.
August 1789Kennet and Avon CanalHaving a few months earlier received for comment the surveys of Samuel Weston, Samuel Simcock and James Barnes he reported favouring a line through Hungerford, Marlborough and Calne, subject to the water supplies being satisfactory.
1790Leeds and Liverpool CanalHe became engineer, assisted by his younger son William.
July 1790Forth & Clyde CanalThe offical opening of the canal took place and the Scots Magazine reported "In the course of the voyage from Glasgow to Bowling Bay, the track-boat passed along that stupendous bridge, the great aqueduct over the Kelvin, 400 ft in length, exhibiting to the spectators in the valley below the singular and new object of a vessel navigating 70 ft over their heads - a feature of this work which gives it a pre-eminence over everything of a similar nature in Europe, and does infinite honour to the professional skill of that able engineer Robert Whitworth Esq, under whose direction the whole of this great work has been completed in a very masterly manner".
1791Herefordshire & Gloucestershire CanalHe was asked to estimate for a canal on a reduced scale but was too busy to come.
1791Leeds and Liverpool CanalMuch 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.
Spring March 1791Rochdale CanalHe was asked to do a survey for the canal but could not find the time.
July 1791Leeds and Liverpool CanalHe 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.
1792Grand Western CanalHe surveyed the line a proposed a route from Topsham on the Exe estuary up the Clyst valley (with a short branch to the Exeter Road near Sowton) past Clyst Hydon up the Culm valley by Cullompton (served by another short branch) then south of Sampford Peverall where there was a brach to Tiverton. The canal continued past Runnington notth of Wellington to Bradford and the River at Taunton about half a mile above the Tone Bridge. Water was to be supplied by a feeder from Culmstock and two reserviors beyond and two more reserviors north of Burlescombe. The estimated cost was 166,724 including 22,229 for the Cullompton and Tiverton branches.
Summer June 1792Dearne and Dove CanalHe made a survey for canal under William Jessop's supervision.
Mid October 1792Ashby de la Zouch CanalHe produced a plan, based on and adding to his 1781 scheme, for a canal from the Limeworks at Ticknall to Ashby Woulds then on to the Coventry Canal at Griff.The Ticknall end was to have branches to Cloud Hill and perhaps Staunton Harold it wes then to rise 84 feet through locks before descending 139 feet to Ashby Woulds. This section was to have a reservior 51 feet below the summit with water pumped by a steam engine and was estimated to cost 82,143. The level section from Ashby Woulds to Griff was estimated to cost 63,402.
1793Bristol - Thames Head Canal projectHe supported this plan as it had a better water supply than the Bristol - Cirencester Canal project.
1793Public Devonshire Canal ProjectHe approved the line proposed by George Bentley and Thomas Bolton.
Early 1793Kennet and Avon CanalJohn Rennie was asked to make a new survey of the canal and to communicate the results to him.
Spring March 1793Gloucester & Sharpness Ship CanalHe was asked to resurvey the line for the canal but was too busy.
8 July 1793River TrentHe and William Jessop reported on the on the state of the navigation and recommended improvements in preparation for a new navigation Act.
August 1793Monkey Island - Isleworth canal projectHe and Robert Mylne were appointed joint engineers to the project.
September 1793Dorset & Somerset CanalHe reported on his survey and suggested a 37 mile route from the proposed Kennet & Avon Canal at Freshford to Stalbridge this would cost 100,000 and had good water supplies. From Stalbridge the line south could either go past Blandford at an estimated cost of 83,000 for 33 miles of canal, or by Wareham, which was 91,000 for 30 miles and had difficulties with water supply.
1794Somerset Coal CanalHe and John Sutcliffe were engaged to do detailed surveys.
February 1794Monkey Island - Isleworth canal projectHe and Robert Mylne attended a meeting of canal supporters that decided that new locks on the Thames would not meet the needs of navigation.
July 1794Ashby de la Zouch CanalIt was agree that he and his son Robert would act as joint engineers, he spending three months a year on the canal and his son working full-time.
1795Glamorganshire CanalAround this time he was called in to arbitrate between the canal company and their former contractors, the Dadfords and Thomas Sheasby. Of the 17,000 claimed by the company he awarded that only 1,512 should be refunded by the contractors.
1795Leeds and Liverpool CanalFollowing the appointment of Samuel Fletcher as resident engineer and in view of his own other commitments he continued as engineer at half salary.
1795Lancaster CanalHe was called in to arbitrate in the disputes between Archibald Millar the resident engineer and the contractors John Pinkerton and John Murray.
1795Stainforth & Keadby CanalHe surveyed the unfinished canal.
1795Wilts and Berks CanalHe and his son William signed the deposited plan.
Early 1795Herefordshire & Gloucestershire CanalHe was appionted engineer.
Spring March 1795Dearne and Dove CanalHe surveyed the unfinished canal.
Autumn September 1795Commercial Canal projectHe surveyed the line for the canal.
Early 1796Dudley Canal Line No 2He was asked to make an inspection of the works following the death of Josiah Clowes and before the appointment of William Underhill as engineer.
Early 1796Grand Junction CanalHe was called in to advise on the problems of Blisworth Tunnel and supported James Barnes idea for a tunnel on a slightly different line.
Late 1796River ParrettHe was asked to examine the works and to estimate the costs of completion.
December 1796Leeds & Liverpool - Rufford BranchHe reported that a canal was proposed from the Lancaster Canal to the Ribble opposite the Douglas outfall. He suggested that the Leeds & Liverpool could improve the Douglas up to Sollom lock by an artifical cut and thus provide a route between the two canals.
1797River DonHe made a survey of the river.
1797Gloucester & Sharpness Ship CanalHe and William Jessop were consulted about changes to the line.
Early 1797Newcastle - Carlisle - Maryport Canal schemesHaving looked at John Sutcliffe's plans he approved the line although it "is a rugged one; I never before saw a good line like it; yet so far as I can discover, I believe it is the best the country affords: It is certainly practicable, and I have no doubt but that a good and useful canal may be made (with some variation) upon it; but it will be exceedingly expensive: I am, however, told the trade that will come upon this canal will fully answer that expence, even were it twice as much.".
January 1797Durham Canal projectHe reported on Ralph Dodd's line for the canal which he accepted with some alterations. The main changes were to save two locks by dropping the summit level of the Wear-Tyne Canal, to bring the branch in at the summit level so its water could be used for both ends of the canal, and to use larger craft on theWest Kyo inclined plane section.His estimates were for 21,281 on the Wear, 33,497 for the main line, and 24,280 for the branch, giving 79,058 in total.
June 1797Ashby de la Zouch CanalHis services and those of his son were teminated although it was agreed that they could be employed on a daily basis.
June 1797Herefordshire & Gloucestershire CanalHe recommended a dam across the river at Over to prevent silt getting into the 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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