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Caledonian Canal

Description: A 60 mile, 29 lock, ship canal through the Great Glen from Inverness to Fort William.

History: Authorised by Acts of 1803 and 1804 and completed in 1822.Built by William Jessop and Thomas Telford.

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

January 1802

Thomas Telford

After surveying the area around this time he recommended that public works should be carried out to "furnish employment for the industrious and valuable part of people in their own country" and advised the building of waterways and roads in the highlands and a canal through the Great Glen.

January 1803

Authorised by an Act.

January 1803

William Jessop

He was appointed consulting engineer for the project.

July 1803

Thomas Telford

Around this time he was appointed principal engineer at a daily rate of 3 guineas plus travelling expenses.

January 1804

Authorised by an Act.

April 1804

William Jessop

He estimated the cost of the canal as 474,500 excluding land purchase.

Summer January 1804

William Jessop

He advised Thomas Telford to appoint two resident engineers or superintendents.

Summer January 1804

Thomas Telford

On William Jessop's advice he appointed Matthew Davison and John Telford as resident engineers.

January 1805

William Jessop

He and Thomas Telford decided that a basin should be made for Corpach sea-lock and that the locks should be arranged as staircase flights to save expense.

January 1805

Thomas Telford

He and William Jessop decided that a basin should be made for Corpach sea-lock and that the locks should be arranged as staircase flights to save expense.

April 1805

Thomas Telford

He told the commissioners that the eastern district of the canal employed about 500 workers, mainly from around the Moray Firth, and in the western district there were 404, including about 300 "strangers" from Appin, Arisaig, Kintyre, Lismore, Morrar and Skye also some crofters who had stettled on Corpach Moss after being evicted by Cameron of Lochiel from their farms on Loch Arkaig.

January 1811

Eight lock staircase built at Banavie.

January 1813

Muirtown four-rise staircase locks built.

January 1818

Thomas Telford

He was engaged in negotiations with Colonel Alexander Ranaldson McDonnell of Clanronald and Glengrry about the course of the navigation through Loch Oich.

May 1818

Thomas Telford

He gave the increased price of food and labour, the higher than expected cost of land, extra sections of canal that needed clay linings, more rock cutting than estimated and the assembling of dredgers in remote country as the reasons for the canal construction taking longer and costing more than was planned.

January 1820

Five lock staircase built at Fort Augustus.

January 1822

Completed.

January 1826

Thomas Telford

He attributes the premature decay of the Gairlochy regulating-lock to it being built with inferior stone, no better being available in the area prior to the canal being in use.

January 1916

The Caledonian Canal. By P Bonthron. First published.

January 1972

The Caledonian Canal by A D Cameron , Published by Terrence Dalton Ltd.

January 1992

Caledonian - Monster Canal by Guthrie Hutton, IPublished by Richard Stenlake - Pictures of the canal earlier this century with informative captions.

 

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