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Calder and Hebble Navigation

Description: Runs from the junction with the Aire and Calder (Wakefield Section) to Sowerby Bridge.

History: Promoted by Acts of 1758, 1769 and 1825. Opened from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge in 1770. The branch to Halifax was opened in 1828 and abandoned in 1942.

Points of Interest: Many of the locks still use the unique Calder & Hebble handspike to raise the paddles. Make sure you have one before navigating the canal.

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

January 1740

John Eyes

He made a survey of the proposed navigation and together with Thomas Steers produced a projection.

January 1740

Thomas Steers

He produced a projection of the proposed navigation together with John Eyes who had made the survey on which it was based.

January 1744

Joseph 1 Atkinson

Was granted a leese of the River Calder for 3,600.

Autumn January 1756

John Smeaton

He was asked to survey a navigation between Wakefield and Elland but was too busy with work on the Eddystone lighthouse.

June 1757

John Smeaton

He was again asked to survey a navigation between Wakefield and Elland and agreed to come in the autumn, requesting a scale plan of the river in preparation.

21st November 1757

John Smeaton

He reported to a meeting at Halifax on his proposals, based on his recent survey, for a 23½ mile navigation to take 20 to 25 ton craft with a draught of up to 3 feet 6 inches. This was to run from Wakefield to Salterhebble bridge.

January 1758

Promoted by an Act.

January 1758

John Eyes

Did a survey to extend the proposed navigation to Sowerby Bridge.

7th July 1758

John Smeaton

He was appointed part-time superintendent (or engineer) at 250 a year.

25th November 1759

John Smeaton

His pay for work as engineer began and it is believed that construction started after this date.

After November 1759

Joseph Nickalls

He assisted Smeaton on the Wakefield to Dewsbury section.

November 1761

John Gwyn

He and Matthias Scott were appointed as surveyors.

November 1761

Matthias Scott

He and John Gwyn were appointed as surveyors.

November 1762

John Gwyn

He was assigned to collect tolls on for the newly opened part of the lower river.

15th November 1764

John Smeaton

He claimed no salary after this date and was replaced by James Brindley in the following January.

January 1765

James Brindley

Became engineer in succession to Smeaton.

January 1765

John Gwyn

He was dismissed when Brindley took over responsibility from Smeaton.

January 1765

Matthias Scott

He was dismissed when Brindley took over responsibility from Smeaton.

31st January 1765

James Brindley

Following his survey he presents his plans and estimates, for extending the Calder Navigation to Sowerby Bridge, to a meeting of the commisioners. He was then appointed "Surveyor, Manager and Undertaker" for carrying out the works at one and a half guineas a day.

January 1768

John Longbotham

Around this time he did a survey for a 2 mile 5 furlong canal with 20 from Godley bridge, near Halifax, to the Calder navigation. This was probably done on behalf of a private group of promoters or single promoter.

Spring January 1768

John Smeaton

He surveyed the river following the February floods which he reported as "higher than any flood in man's memory, of of which there is any tradition".

January 1769

Promoted by an Act.

January 1769

John Smeaton

He supported the Bill in parliament which became the Act giving powers to extend the navigation to Sowerby Bridge, raise extra capital and change the name of the waterway to "The Company of Proprietors of the Calder & Hebble Navigation".

16th May 1769

Luke Holt

The navigation company committee nominated him and Robert Carr as surveyors or resident engineers.

18th May 1769

Robert Carr, junior

The navigation company committee nominated him and Luke Holt as surveyors or resident engineers.

January 1770

Opened from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge.

January 1770

John Longbotham

He surveyed two possible branches one betweem Birstall and Dewsbury and the other to Bradford via Cleckheaton the Spen valley.

December 1770

John Smeaton

He surveyed the newly openned line to Sowerby Bridge and found "the River now put into as good a State of Security as could possibly be expected in the Time and is indeed in the General in a very defensible Condition".

January 1771

John Smeaton

He was asked the best way to supply water to the summit at Sowerby Bridge and advised the construction of a "Tunnel made in the way of an Adit or Sough, such as those made for draining Collieries" from Hollis Mill through the high ground. It was started in June 1772 and was completed in March 1774.

March 1774

Luke Holt

Left the company's service.

December 1775

William Jessop

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

January 1777

Robert Carr, junior

He died and was succeeded by William Brassey.

January 1779

William Jessop

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

January 1779

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.

January 1779

William Brassey

Appointed resident engineer following Robert Carr's depaarture.

After January 1779

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.

January 1780

William Jessop

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

January 1782

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.

January 1785

William Jessop

Battye Ford cut is extended to his plans.

January 1791

William Jessop

Around this date he gave up his interest in the lime-burning and colliery business on Mirfield cut.

January 1792

William Jessop

He was not employed as consultant after this date when Thomas Bradley became the canal engineer.

Early January 1792

William Brassey

Left the company.

December 1792

Thomas Bradley

Appointed engineer at 105 a year.

January 1794

Thomas Bradley

The company paid him 105 for his part in supporting the Rochdale Canal Bill in its passage through parliament. He was now recognised as a fully competent engineer and from this time on he undertook all the planning and execution of his work, the company no longer employing William Jessop as consultant.

January 1800

William Jessop

Around this date he gave up his interest in the dry-dock business on Mirfield cut.

January 1808

William Jessop

He was consulted by the company concerning a dispute with Sir Thomas Pilkington over the building of new locks at Fall Ing.

January 1816

Thomas Bradley

Went to the rivers Thames and Trent to assess their dredgers.

January 1816

Bryan Donkin

He met the company's engineer, Thomas Bradley, in London to discuss dredgers. Donkin had previously sent a plan for a dredger to the company.

January 1817

Bryan Donkin

He received an order for a dredger from the company.

January 1819

Thomas Bradley

The company awarded him 500 as remuneration for his past long and valuable services. They also promised him a pension of 200 a year when he retired and added 100 a year to his present salary.

Late January 1824

Thomas Bradley

He estimated that it would cost 34,533 to build the branch from Salterhebble to Halifax. The enabling Act was passed the following year.

January 1825

Promoted by an Act.

January 1828

Branch to Halifax opened.

28th March 1828

Thomas Bradley

The opening of his completed Halifax Branch.

January 1832

Thomas Bradley

Now in poor health, the company appointed William Gravatt as engineer, nominally under his control.

January 1832

Bryan Donkin

Recommended William Gravatt as engineer for the navigation under Thomas Bradley.

January 1832

William Gravatt

He was appointed as engineer on the recommendation of Bryan Donkin. He stayed only a matter of months despite his "Talents un-questionably of a superior Order" in favour of someone "of more experience in the management of Workmen in this part of the Country".

May 1833

William Bull

Appointed engineer and soon after recommended 60,000 pounds worth of improvements to the navigation.

January 1834

H R Palmer

He was asked to report following an Act that allowed improvements to the navigation up as far as Mirfield. He suggested large-scale works at the cost of 83,403. The committee and shareholders agreed on a smaller navigation 7 feet deep and 50 foot wide.

Early January 1836

George Stephenson

He and others representing the promoters of the Manchester & Leeds Railway Bill approached the company with offers of good bridge clearances for navigation, and free access for the navigation to "Fields of Coal or other Minerals" but failed to persuade the company not to oppose the Bill.

Mid January 1882

William Hammond Bartholomew

Took charge of the improvement and enlargement of the locks.

February 1886

William Hammond Bartholomew

The company said that he had treated them "very cavalierly" in dealing with the 5,700 dilapidation charges arising from the end of the Aire & Calder's leese of the navigation.

January 1942

Halifax Branch abandoned.

January 1972

Yorkshire's River of Industry by J Ogden , Published by Terrence Dalton Ltd. The River Calder.

 

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