Waterways of England and Wales

1780 - 1790


Introduction to 1780-1790

Click on one of the coloured areas to see an enlarged view.


These historical maps are the work of by the late Dr. Mike Stevens

A period of consolidation

By 1790 the Grand Cross Canals were finally complete, and the Coventry Canal was connected to Birmingham by the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. The Birmingham Canal Company had taken over the B&F proposal (on a different line) and changed its name to the "Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company", later to become the "Birmingham Canal Navigations" or BCN.

Running north from the Trent into the Nottinghamshire coalfield, the existing Erewash Canal was to be joined by the Nottingham Canal, which also by-passed a difficult section of the Trent in Nottingham.

Further North, the Leeds & Liverpool and the Rochdale were each making slow progress, and the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal was proposed running northwards from Manchester.

The first tiny canals in South Wales had been proposed in the previous decade, but some more serious proposals were now on the table. The pattern in this area was mainly of canals running down river valleys to bring cargo (mainly coal) to coastal ports.

The South now saw one complete canal and two planned East-West cross-country routes, the Thames and Severn (a re-awakening of a proposal from Tudor times), the Western Canal (later to become the Kennet and Avon Canal) and the Wilts and Berks to connect the latter to the upper Thames. The planned Basingstoke Canal inspired proposals to link it either to the Itchen (& hence Southampton) or to Salisbury.