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Waterways Chronology from 1778 to 1787

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Chronology Index

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.

1782

Calder and Hebble Navigation

Samuel Hartley

Under Jessop's direction he starts work on replacing the single Brooksmouth lock and the two-rise Salterhebble locks with three new locks.

Emmet's Canal

Opened about 1782.

Eardington Forges Canal

Opened.

Market Weighton Canal

Opened.

Thames and Severn Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

River Trent

William Jessop

He was asked to survey the river to see what improvements to navigation could be made without building locks. He listed 67 shoals and thought that dredging to acheive a minimum depth of 2 feet was possible where there was a hard bed to the river. He also recommended several new cuts.

River Trent

John Smith

A state of the depths of water upon the shallows in the River Trent between Cavendish Bridge and Gainsboro as taken by William Jessop and John Smith

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Gott

He was told to put up two more staiths at Selby and to prepare plans and estimates for such warehouses, cranes and lay-bys as he thought necessary there.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Richard Owen

He is discharged from his post of engineer.

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Gott

He is told to build the Counting House, Warehouse, Crane, Rigging House, Tarring House, Sailmaker's Shop and a place fordepositing old ropes at Selby in accordance with his plans and estimates.

River Trent

Thomas Dadford junior

He and his father suryey the river down to Gainsborough and recommend locks, side cuts, dredging and a horse towing path.

River Trent

Thomas Dadford senior

He and his son, Thomas, suryey the river down to Gainsborough and recommend locks, side cuts, dredging and a horse towing path.

1783

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Thomas Dadford senior

He left his post as engineer and surveyor and was afterwards employed on an ad hoc basis.

River Rother (Western)

William Jessop

He reported on the lower river to Petworth Mills.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Promoted by an Act.

Thames and Severn Canal

Promoted by an Act.

River Trent

Promoted by Act.

Thames and Severn Canal

Josiah Clowes

Appointed resident engineer.

River Trent

William Jessop

He was employed to survey the Trent above Burton and the rivers Tame and Anker and reported that they could be made navigable to Birmingham for wide boats at much less cost than the projected Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

River Trent

William Jessop

He was appointed engineer to the new company set up by an Act just passed. He was to be paid 675 by instalments to complete authorised works.

River Thames

Robert Whitworth

In 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.

1784

Alford Canal project

John Hudson

He and William Jessop prepared a plan and estimate for a canal with the outfall at Anderby.

Alford Canal project

William Jessop

He and John Hudson prepared a plan and estimate for a canal with the outfall at Anderby.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

John Smeaton

He was engineer for the canal.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

John Bull

About this time he and John Snape surveyed the extension of the canal to the Birmingham Canal through Dudley Tunnel.

Birmingham Canal Navigations

Promoted by Act.

Walsall Canal

John Smeaton

He was engineer for the canal.

Coventry Canal

Thomas Dadford senior

He and Robert Whitworth advised on the proposed Tame Aqueduct.

Lechlade - Abingdon Canal project

Robert Whitworth

He survyed a 22¾ mile line from Kempsford on the Thames & Severn Canal to Abingdon to by-pass 45¾ miles of difficult river navigation.

Llansamlet (Smith's) Canal

Completed about 1784.

River Severn

William Jessop

He was commissioned by the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Company to estimate the cost of removing shallows in the river, making a horse towing path and other navigation improvements.

Gloucester & Sharpness Ship Canal

Robert Whitworth

He surveyed a new line for the canal about this date. At this time the proposed canal was called the Gloucester Canal.

River Lee

John, junior Glynn

On the death of his father he succeeded to the post of engineer.

River Severn

William Jessop

He recommended that the river be made navigable from from Meadow Wharf at Colnbrookdale to Diglis below Worcester. By building 13 or 14 locks and weirs and other works it would be possible for craft drawing up to 4 feet to navigate in all seasons.

1785

River Arun

Act passed to make the river navigable between Houghton Bridge and Newbridge.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Thomas Dadford senior

He checked the original survey and was made consulting engineer for the Dudley Tunnel extension. He was told to plan for a commodious basin at Castle Mill were the tunnel was to join Lord Dudley's tunnel.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

John Snape

He, together with John Bull, surveyed the line of the canal.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Act passed to extended to the Birmingham Canal via Dudley Tunnel.

Birmingham Canal Navigations

James Watt

Around this time he gave the company engineering advice at a time when the junction with the Dudley Canal was being discussed.

Birmingham Canal Navigations

Promoted by Act.

Bude Canal

Edmund Leach

Based on his work in surveying the proposed Tamar Canal (an idea that developed into the Bude Canal) he published a book called A Treatise of Universal Inland Navigations.

Calder and Hebble Navigation

William Jessop

Battye Ford cut is extended to his plans.

Flint Coal Canal

William Jessop

He surveyed a proposed line for the canal.

Flint Coal Canal

Surveyed by William Jessop.

Oakham Canal

William Jessop

He is commissioned to do a survey for the canal although the work was done by Robert Whitworth.

Oakham Canal

Robert Whitworth

He did a survey for a canal from Melton Mowbray to run west of Stapleford, through Leesthorpe and Ashwell to Oakham.

River Severn

George Young

About this time he re-surveyed the river from Coalbrooke to Diglis, below Worcester, that William Jessop had surveyed. He proposed 15 locks instead of Jessop's 13 or 14.

River Wear

Promoted by an Act.

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

He became the cheif engineer.

Oxford Canal (Southern Section)

Samuel Weston

He was commissioned by the company to survey the Cherwell from Banbury to Oxford (as well as the Swift from Cocford to Lutterworth) to see if it could be made navigable. He thought it could.

Dudley Canal Line No 2

Abraham Lees

He became resident engineer.

Coventry Canal

Thomas, senior Sheasby

He was appointed engineer to build the canal extension from Atherstone to Fazeley.

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

In 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.

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

1786

Walsall Canal

Started in 1786 as a branch from the Birmingham canal.

Cromford Canal

John Smith

He and William Jessop are believed to have surveyed part of the Cromford Canal around this date.

Coventry Canal

Promoted by Acts.

General Warde's (Yspitty) Canal

John Smith

Deed granting him lands including "navigable cut or canal through the common called DoleVawr y Bynie, in the hamlet of Berwick ... for the carrying of coals from part of the said lands to be shipped at the river Burry. He now proposed to open a new colliery near Dafen Bridge and intended to make a new improved shipping place at Yspitty, he was authorised by this deed to enlarge his existing canal and extend westwards.

Leven Canal

William Jessop

He was asked "to take a view of the works of the drainage, and of the River Hull, and to report what measures (in his opinion) ought to be pursued to give the best effect to the undertaking; what will be the probable expense of those measures, whether a navigation be compatible with the drainage, and if it be, what additional expense would be required to effect a navigation (as well as drainage) from the outfall to Monk bridge."

Oxford Canal

James Barnes

Appointed Resident Engineeer of the canal.

Oxford Canal

Samuel Simcock

A Bill was presented to Parliament which included the proposition that he, Samuel Weston, and four others should build the canal from Banbury to Oxford for 29,000 on codition that they were given exclusive carrying rights and two-thirds of the profits. This was not accepted.

Oxford Canal

Promoted by Act.

Oxford Canal (Southern Section)

Samuel Weston

A provision in the canal Bill gave him, Samuel Simcock and four others connected with the canal, exclusive carrying rights and two-thirds of the profts in return for building the canal from Banbury to Oxford for 29,000. This was rejected by Parliament.

River Severn

Robert Mylne

He gave evidence on a Bill for making the river navigable from Diglis at Worcester to Meadow Warf at Coalbrookdale.

Oxford Canal

Samuel Simcock

He was sent to Cambridgeshire to study the use of windmills for pumping water. One was ordered to be built at Hardwick Lock.

Leven Canal

William Jessop

He reports that a navigation "will by no means be incompatible with drainage, but rather an advantage to it, if properly executed".

Forth & Clyde Canal

Robert Whitworth

He 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.

1787

Aire & Calder Navigation - Selby Section

John Gott

He was told to errect two cranes at Selby, one on the river and oneon the canal with three gantries.

Basingstoke Canal

William Jessop

He was appointed engineer and did the final survey.

River Cart

Authorised by an Act work, on a cut, following this second Act.

Lancaster Canal

John Longbotham

He proposes to build a cut from the River Winster, near where it joined the the River Kent estuary at Castle Head (SD422799), northeast across Foulshaw Moss to Nether Levens where it would join the River Kent. The Kent was then to be diverted south-southwest along the coast to Arnside where it would turn south along the coastline to the deep water at Heysham Head. The scheme was intended to provide drainage as well as navigation.

Mersey & Irwell Navigation

Hugh Henshall

With two other engineers he investigated the flooding and noted that the navigable depth at Hollins Ferry was 2 feet to 2 feet 9 inches, whereas it had been 1 foot 8 inches sixteen years previously.

River Thames

Josiah Clowes

He advises the Thames Commisionners on the building of Osney Lock while engineer to the Thames & Severn Canal.

Coventry Canal (Detached Portion)

Thomas Dadford senior

He completed the building of this section for the Trent & Mersey Canal Company. Soon afterwards the Coventry Canal exercised its right to buy this section for 10,541.

River Thames

William Jessop

He completed a survey and reported on the river from Oxford to Lechlade.

Aberdeenshire Canal

John Rennie

He proposes that the size of the planned canal should be increased to 27 feet 4 inches wide at the surface, 14 feet wide at the bottom and 4 feet deep.

Dudley Canal Line No 1

Thomas Dadford senior

Following some of the contractors work being found unsatisfactory he was paid off as consulting engineer.

Dudley Canal Line No 2

William Jessop

It was agreed that he would be released from from his bond and that John Pinkerton should pay the company 2,000 by instalments which jessop was to guarantee with others.

Cromford Canal

John Hodgkinson

With Benjamin Outram and others he met with the Erewash Canal company to propose an extention of the canal to Pixton but could get no agreement. This being the start of the events that led to the building of the Cromford Canal.

Grand Union Erewash Canal

Benjamin Outram

With John Hodgkinson and others he met with the Erewash Canal company to propose an extention of the canal to Pixton but could get no agreement. This being the start of the events that led to the building of the Cromford Canal.

River Trent

William Jessop

The navigation works were considered complete and he was paid the balance of his fee and appointed engineer at 100 a year.

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Chronology Index

 

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