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Waterways Chronology from 1772 to 1781

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Chronology Index

1772

James Brindley died.

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

William Jessop

He surveyed the river on behalf of John Smeaton and recommended a 7.25 mile canal between Haddlesey and Newland near the mouth of the Aire.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Longbotham

He was employed to make a survey for the proposed Leeds & Selby Canal. His canal was to take 50 or 60-ton craft over a 23 mile 1 furlong route which included a long aqueduct and a 400 yard tunnel at an estimated cost of 59,468.

Chester Canal

Authorised by an Act.

Caldon Branch - Trent and Mersey Canal

James Brindley

Survey the route for the canal, during which he caught a chill that led to his death.

River Derwent

Isaac Milbourn

He and Thomas Tofield were employed by local landowners to advise on improving the river for drainage. They also considered seeking new powers for completing the original proposed navigation from Malton to Scarborough.

River Derwent

Thomas Tolfield

He and Isaac Milbourn were employed by local landowners to advise on improving the river for drainage. They also considered seeking new powers for completing the original proposed navigation from Malton to Scarborough.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

William Jessop

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

Lancaster Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

Llechryd Canal

Built about 1772.

Market Weighton Canal

John Smeaton

He was suggested as consultant engineer for the canal but the idea was rejected on grounds of cost.

Market Weighton Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Norfolk and Suffolk Broads

Promoted by Act.

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Fully opened.

River Severn

Promoted by Act.

Stevenston Canal

Completed.

Shropshire Union Dee Branch

Authorised by the Chester Canal Act of 1 April 1772.

River Ure

Navigation from Swale Nab to the Ripon Canal opened.

Went Canal project

John, junior Smith

He surveyed a proposed 24 mile canal with 19 locks from Wakefield through the Went valley to the Dutch River at Went Mouth. The locks were to be 15 feet 6 inches wide and 56 feet long. A broad tunnel 2,128 yards long was also included in the plan which was estimated to cost 36,414 for the whole navigation.

Chesterfield Canal

John Varley

Following Brindley's death he moved from his post of Clerk of Works to become resident engineer with Hugh Henshall.

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

John Smeaton

He reports that he has aimed "to procure the essential of a navigation, the means of keeping vessels always afloat" and proposed improvements that would give 3 ft 6 in to ft of water, to take craft carrying 30 to 45 tons. These included dredging, rebuilding some mill locks, new cuts, especially a by-pass canal, to avoid low water and shoals, from just above Haddlesey lock to run on the south side of the river to Gowdall above Snaith with two locks or a similar one on the north side from Chapel Haddlesey to Newland beyond Rawcliffe. There was to be a second by-pass with one lock from Brotherton on the north side nf the river below Knottingley because "the Water is in general so shallow, that it becomes necessary, not only to raise the Water higher by temporary Boards placed on Beal Dam below, but to let down Flashes from the Mill Dam to carry the Vessels over the Shallows; and, for want of suflicient Water for the Purpose, the Vessels are often detained there in their passage many Days together". He also recommended cuts at Leeds (¼ mile, with a lock to replace the old one), Knostrop (7 furlongs, with two new locks to replace three old ones at mills), Woodlesford (1½ miles, with two new locks to replace two old ones), Methley (¾ mile, with floodgates and a lock to replace the old Methley lock) and floodgates and a lock on the mile cut to Castleford. Finally, he advised the undertakers to obtain powers to remove obstructions and build a towing path right to the Ouse.

Chester Canal

John Lawton

He was employed as assistant engineer to Samuel Weston.

Chester Canal

Samuel Weston

He was appointed engineer. His prevoius experience having been as surveyor and as a contractor for cutting.

Market Weighton Canal

Samuel Allam

He is appointed resident engineer.

Market Weighton Canal

John Grundy

The commissioners decide not to employ Grundy as consultant as his terms were considered too expensive.

Market Weighton Canal

John, junior Smith

As engineer for the canal he put his plans and estimates to the first meeting of commissioners at the Black Swan, Market Weighton. His proposal included a sea lock and four other locks with rises of up to 16 feet.

River Don

John Thompson

As company engineer he was asked to make a survey for a canal from the river near Stainforth to the Trent near Althorpe, 1.5 miles below Gainsborough. He was assisted by Thomas Tofield.

Market Weighton Canal

John Grundy

A group of landowners ask him to check John Smith's plans and estimats or the canal and he writes a critical report. He proposes locks of around 8 foot fall, about half the fall of some of the locks Smith planned. He is soon afterwards taken on as Consultant Engineer in place of Smith.

Chesterfield Canal

Hugh Henshall

Was appointed to act as consultant following Brindley's death.

Market Weighton Canal

John, junior Smith

Following John Grundy's criticisms of his plans for the canal he is dismissed as engineer.

Oxford Canal

Samuel Simcock

He was appointed engineer at a salarly of 200 a year.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Hugh Henshall

He suceeded to the post of engineer on Brindley's death.

River Don

John Thompson

He reported on the proposal for a canal from the river near Stainforth to the Trent near Althorpe and estimated it would cost 14,614 for a canal with three locks taking 40-ton craft drawing up to 4 foot.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

John Longbotham

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

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

John Smeaton

He appeared before the parliamentary committee to support the navigation improvement plans and to oppose the rival Leeds & Selby Canal project.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

Thomas Yeoman

He supported John Longbotham's Leeds & Selby Canal in parliamentary evidence. This scheme was the alternative to the Aire & Calder's Selby Canal.

1773

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

William Jessop

He surveyed the whole river and accepted John Smeaton,s proposals between Leeds and Castleford and drew up new proposals under Smeaton's direction for the rest of the river.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

William Jessop

Under the direction of John Smeaton he drew up plans for a 5.25 mile canal between Haddlesey and Selby.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Longbotham

He attends a parliamentary committee on the projected Leeds & Selby Canal, which he surveyed.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Smeaton

He directs William Jessop in preparing proposals for the new route from Bank Dole to Selby.

Aylsham Navigation

Authorised by an Act.

Preston Brook Branch (Bridgewater Canal)

Completed in about 1773.

Grand Union Regents Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

Huddersfield Broad Canal

Joseph 1 Atkinson

Assisted Luke Holt in a survey for the canal.

Huddersfield Broad Canal

Luke Holt

Surveyed a route for the canal assisted by Joseph Atkinson

Leeds & Liverpool - Springs Branch

Agents of Lord Thanet, then a minor and owner of Skipton Castle, obtained an Act on 10 May 1773.

Norfolk and Suffolk Broads

Promoted by Act.

St. Columb Canal

Authorised by an Act.

Chesterfield Canal

John Varley

The committee found that his books were in a muddle and that the tunnel contracts "have been improvidently made and at prices greatly exceeding the real value thereof and in a collusive manner". One of the contractors was his brother Thomas Varley. He (John Varley) was kept on but three other Varleys were dismissed and his co-resident engineer, Hugh Henshall, became chief engineer.

St. Columb Canal

John Harris

He gave evidence to a House of Lords committee during the passage of the Bill.

Market Weighton Canal

Samuel Allam

He completed a survey for the line into Market Drayton.

1774

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

Promoted by Act.

Aylsham Navigation

Construction started.

Bradford Canal

Opened.

Bude Canal

John Box

Surveyed the line for the proposed canal with Edmund Leach.

Bude Canal

Edmund Leach

Surveyed the line for the proposed canal with John Box.

Bude Canal

Promoted by Act.

Chester Canal

Thomas, Senior Morris

Was called back from Ireland to take up the appointment of engineer.

Chester Canal

Samuel Weston

He left his post as engineer.

Huddersfield Broad Canal

Joseph 1 Atkinson

Gave evidence to the Commons committee on the passage of the Bill.

Huddersfield Broad Canal

Promoted under an Act.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Bingley Three Rise and Bingley Five Rise staircase locks opened.

Middle Level Navigation

Lord Orford's Voyage round the Fens. Three contempory accounts of the voyage by Mr Thomas Roberts, Mr Geo. Farrington and Lord Orford. Introdcuced by H J K Jenkins and published by Cambridgeshire Libraries Publications, 1993.

Speedwell Level

Began.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Over fifty miles of waterway open by early 1774.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

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.

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

John Gott

It is reported that he considers the number of craft on the navigation had increased by half in ten years.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

Luke Holt

Left the company's service.

Stroudwater Canal

Thomas Dadford junior

Produced an estimate based on his survey of the line of the canal with John Priddey. They estimated a cost of 16,451.

Stroudwater Canal

John Priddey

He surveyed the route with Thomas Dadford.

Stroudwater Canal

Thomas Yeoman

He re-surveyed the line and suggested a 8 mile canal 42 feet wide with 12 locks taking Severn craft.

1775

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

Cutting of the Selby Canal started early this year.

Chester Canal

Opened to Beeston.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

John Smeaton

He surveyed John Varley's proposed line and recommended five locks with a 5 foot fall instead of three with 8 to 9 foot fall. He estimated the cost at 5,952 of which 2,500 was for the locks.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

Surveyed by John Smeaton.

Nent Force Level

John Smeaton

He and Richard Walton, his fellow Receiver for the mining rights to Alston Moor, prepared a report for the Commissioners of Greenwich Hostipal who were the owners of the land. They proposed a 3 mile drainage tunnel intersecting a number of lead ore veins which would have been uneconomical to work without drainage.

Oxford Canal

Promoted by Act.

Sir Nigel Gresley's Canal

Authorised by an Act.

Shropshire Union Main Line

Northgate Staircase Locks constructed between 1775 and 1797.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Chellshill Aqueduct (over the present B5078 road) and Snapes Aqueduct opened in April.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Gott

He began cutting the canal as resident engineer under William Jessop.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

William Jessop

Cutting of the Selby canal began under his direction as engineer at 250 a year.

Chester Canal

Joseph Taylor

About this date he became engineer.

Stroudwater Canal

Samuel Jones

He was appointed resident engineer at one pound, eleven shillings and sixpence a week including all expenses.

Stourbridge Canal

Robert Whitworth

A 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.

Stroudwater Canal

Samuel Jones

The directors resolve to discharge him and pay him 12 guineas for his trouble.

Stroudwater Canal

John Priddey

He was appointed engineer at a salary of 100 a year with at least a quater of his time to be spent supervising construction.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

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.

Chester Canal

Josiah Clowes

Became resident engineer after apparently having previously been a carrier on the Trent & Mersey. It was not long before he was dismissed for inattention to duty.

Chester Canal

Thomas, Senior Morris

He had been dismissed by this date.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Jessop

He was engaged to build Mirfield cut with John Pinkerton as contractor.

1776

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Started under the direction of Thomas Dadford Senior.

Driffield Navigation

Snakeholme locks were originally single locks, were changed to a staircase.

Grand Union Leicester Section

Act of 1776 (River Soar Navigation) passed.

Huddersfield Broad Canal

Opened.

Loughborough Navigation

John Smith

He was appointed engineer to build the navigation on contract.

Loughborough Navigation

Authorised by Act (canal work).

Nent Force Level

Work started in 1776 to a plan by John Smeaton.

Sir Nigel Gresley's Canal

Completed about 1776.

Stourbridge Canal

Thomas Dadford junior

Appointed engineer at 120 a yeas and a house.

Stourbridge Canal

James (Birmingham) Green

Was appointed to assist Thomas Dadford junior as engineer.

Stourbridge Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Stroudwater Canal

Thomas Yeoman

He said, speaking of the cranes that were to transfer goods by Mills instead of locks, that he had "seen the Engines now remaining upon the River - that are out of Repair not being used - . . . most of the Iron work is lost".

Stroudwater Canal

An Act was passed authorising a canal navigation after works being built under the 1730 act were found to be illegal.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Chester Canal

Mr Moon

Around this time he briefly served as company engineer.

Stroudwater Canal

John Priddey

He was given three months notice of the termination of his post as engineer.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Thomas Dadford senior

Was appointed engineer and surveyor.

Mardyke Canal

John Swinden

He submitted a 15,746 estimate for making the Mardyke navigable for 9½ miles from Poorfleet Slice, through Bulphan, to a bridge near Childerditch Church. He proposed 5 locks to cope with the 50 feet fall, including an entrance lock from the Thames.

Stroudwater Canal

Edmund Lingard

He was appointed engineer.

Erewash Canal

John Smith

He surveyed a line from the Trent below Sawley and just above the mouth of the Soar past Long Eaton, up the west bank of the Erewash river to a crossing aboveIlkeston. From there it followed the east bank to Langley Mill, a total rise of 108 feet 8½ inches according to his survey.

1777

Calder and Hebble Navigation

Robert Carr, junior

He died and was succeeded by William Brassey.

Chesterfield Canal

Opened.

Erewash Canal

John Varley

He was appointed engineer at a salary of 220 a year.

Erewash Canal

Authorised by an Act.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

William Jessop

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

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

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

Liskeard & Looe Union Canal

Edmund Leach

He was consulted on the possibility of a canal and proposed a canal from Sandplace, 2miles above East Looe, to Bank Mill bridge, 2.5 miles from Liskeard. He estimated it would cost 17,495 for a 15-mile canal with two inclined planes.

Loughborough Navigation

John May

He was put in charge of the building of Redhill Lock and other improvements, as recommended by William Jessop, and employed contractors to do the work.

Market Weighton Canal

William Jessop

He was asked to measure the work done by the Pinkerton's so that their account could be settled.

Nent Force Level

John Gilbert recommended widening.

St. Columb Canal

Opened between 1777 and 1779.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Croxton Aqueduct (River Dane Crossing) opened May.

Chesterfield Canal

Thorpe Locks and Turner Wood Lock Double Locks built as staircase locks.

Loughborough Navigation

William Jessop

He was called in to suggest improvements to the navigation and advised the building of a new lock at Redhill and the deepening of the upper canal to act as a reservoir.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Hugh Henshall

Completes the canal started by Brindley.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Richard Owen

He was appointed engineer.

River Bure

John Green

He was the engineer responsible for extending the navigation by building locks. He reported that about 3,600 had been spent and that another 2,951 was required to complete the navigation.

River Bure

John, junior Smith

He reported on the river works currently in progess and stated some 3,600 had been spent and another 2,951 was needed to complete the navigation.

Stroudwater Canal

Edmund Lingard

He was dismissed by the directors after he refused to allow them to give him detailed orders and report to them twice a week.

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal

Robert Whitworth

He proposed a canal from Ledbury to Gloucester.

Leominster Canal

Robert Whitworth

He proposed a canal from Hereford through Leominster and Pensax to Stourport.

Loughborough Navigation

John Smith

He was thought too slow and was replaced.

1778

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

The Selby Canal was built by William Jessop early in his career and opened in 1778.

Basingstoke Canal

Joseph Parker

He surveyed the line for the canal Act.

Basingstoke Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Bude Canal

John Smeaton

In his report he re-estimated the authorised line at 119,201, saying that "the county of Cornwall... seems but ill-adapted for the making of canals across the country, being so very frequently intersected with valleys, that to preserve a level for any considerable space between two given points, it becomes necessary to go through a vast meandering course". He proposed that instead the River Bude should be locked for 3½ miles; that 6 miles of canal with three planes should be built to the River Tamar, and then 15½: miles of river navigation with ten locks to Greston bridge, from where more locked river could carry the navigation to Calstock, or a branch canal could take it up to Launceston. His estimated the cost to Greston bridge as 46,109. He suggested that a less satisfactoy alternative would be a canal from Bude to Launceston only, but shortened to 34 miles, with five planes.

Cann Quarry Canal

John Smeaton

He was asked by John Parker, proprietor of the Cann slate quarry, to survey for a canal from there to the new bridge over the River Plym at Marsh Mills, from where barges could reach Plymouth on the tide. He considered a 2¼ mile canal was practicable but recommended a railroad on economic grounds.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

William II Fairbank

Lord Rockingham employed him to make a survey for the line.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

Surveyed by William Fairbank.

Grand Surrey Canal

John Smeaton

He was called in to adjudicate between two routes for a canal from Kingston on Thames to Ewell. Nothing further was done.

Market Weighton Canal

John Holt

He was asked to estimate the smallest possible amount needed to finish the canal to Market Weighton.

Oxford Canal (Northern Section)

Samuel Weston

He said that the error in taking the levels which resulted in the canal being about 6¾ inches higher than the Coventry Canal was "a most egregious error where a canal is so distress'd for Water". Of the 33 yard tunnel at Wolfhamcote he said "a Bridge wou'd have answered the purpose".

Speedwell Level

Completed around 1778.

Stevenston Canal

Branches added around 1778.

River Tyne

John Smeaton

He briefly surveyed the river from Stella (four miles above Newcastle and a little below Newburn) up to Wylan with a view to making a cut but it was never built.

River Bure

John, junior Smith

He agreed to continue work on the navigation following the raising of more funds.

River Ancholme

John Dunderdale

He was asked to stake out land at Bishopbridge as a coal and general goods wharf.

Erewash Canal

John Varley

The top lock had to be taken down and rebuilt following his error in the levels. He was ordered to pay the 78 costs less the value of the bricks.

1779

Aire and Calder Navigation and River Aire

William Jessop

He was not regularly employed by the company after this date but was sometimes consulted.

Aylsham Navigation

Opened in October.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Brassey

Appointed resident engineer following Robert Carr's depaarture.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Jessop

He reported on and approved John Smeaton's proposals for improvements to the navigation.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

John Smeaton

He surveyed the navigation and suggested changes including the replacement of the staircase pair of locks that James Brindley had installed at Salterhebble plus the single Brooksmouth lock by a new set of three single locks.

Chester Canal

Opened to Nantwich.

Caldon Branch - Trent and Mersey Canal

Opened.

Erewash Canal

Fully opened.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

William Jessop

He altered John Smeaton's plan to allow for a reservoir and four broad locks before starting to build the canal. He probably completed it the next year.

River Lee

Promoted under Act.

Oxford Canal

Samuel Simcock

He and Robert Whitworth surveyed the line for the canal form Banbury to Oxford.

Oxford Canal (Southern Section)

Robert Whitworth

He and Samuel Simcock survey the line for the canal extension from Banbury to Oxford.

Pidcock's Canal

Built about 1779.

Sir John Glynne's Canal

In use until 1779.

St. Columb Canal

Opened between 1777 and 1779.

Stourbridge Canal

Opened.

Stroudwater Canal

Opened.

Shropshire Union Main Line

Northgate Staircase Locks constructed between 1775 and 1797.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Jessop

He and John Pinkerton started three businesses which took advantage of the new Mirfield Cut, lime-burning, a colliery and a dry dock.

River Lee

John, senior Glynn

Was appointed engineer at 120 a year and was given the task of repairing most of the locks.

River Lee

Benjamin Lewis

He was blamed for the unsatisfactory state of the navigation and was dismissed after showing the river to his successor, John Glynn.

1780

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Jessop

He started work on improvements at Kirklees and a new cut at Brighouse.

Greasbrough (Park Gate) Canal

Completed by Jessop.

Kilbagie Canal

Opened about 1780.

Loughborough Navigation

Opened.

Erewash Canal

John Varley

He was dismissed following his failure to keep proper accounts for land and damage compensation payments, and mistakes in the levels for the top lock.

Stort - Cam Canal projects

Robert Whitworth

On 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.

1781

River Ancholme

John Dunderdale

He resigns as company engineer.

River Colne

Promoted by an Act.

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

Stourport Narrow Locks between the river and the canal basins built as staircase locks.

St. Columb Canal

Closed about 1781.

River Stour (Suffolk)

Promoted under Act.

Stourbridge Canal

Thomas Dadford junior

He resigned as engineer.

Stourbridge Canal

Abraham Lees

Was appointed engineer.

Thames and Severn Canal

John Priddey

He completed the first survey for the canal.

Leeds & Liverpool - Rufford Branch

Richard Owen

He reports the construction of branch has been completed.

River Ancholme

Thomas Bradley

Appointed engineer.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Gott

He was told to errect and finish staithes at Selby immediately. He had already drawn up plans for these.

Ashby de la Zouch Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

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Chronology Index

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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