These historical maps are the work of the late Dr. Mike Stevens
Railway competition was beginning to be felt, and the two last successful proposals for long-distance canals were designed to take this into account, with dramatic embankments and cuttings to enable them to group their locks in efficient flights, thus providing for a faster passage. They also had much straighter courses than earlier canals. They were the Macclesfield Canal and the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (later the main line of the "Shroppie"). The latter also planned a branch to connect to the tub-boat canals in West Shropshire and the Ellesmere and Chester revived the plan for a branch to connect to the Trent & Mersey at Middlewich.
In the Black Country the main development was the creation of the Birmingham Canal Navigations' New Main Line, by-passing much of the old with a straighter, deeper route with towpaths on both sides. This was done to cope with congestion.
London saw the opening of both the Grosvenor and Kensington Canals, northward extensions of natural creeks of the Thames, and the building of the Hertford Union Canal (or Duckett's Cut) to connect the Lee and the Regent's.
The Yorkshire waterways were busily modernising in order to compete with railways, and the Aire & Calder's cut from Knottingley to Goole and the replacement of the River Don below Doncaster by an artificial cut were important parts of this.
The Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal was now complete (after a long delay when they ran out of money), and there was a proposal to extend it to Worcester, by-passing the tidal Severn completely. This was never built.