Waterways of England and Wales

1750 - 1760


Introduction to 1750-1760

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

Index map

These historical maps are by the late Dr. Mike Stevens

First Stirrings of the Canal Era

This decade saw the beginnings of the main canal era, around Manchester. River navigations were still being built, but nobody had succeeded in getting Parliament's permission to build a true canal, until Liverpool Council used a clever stratagem. They applied to Parliament for permission to make the Sankey Brook navigable. This was granted in 1755, the Act containing provision for them to make Navigable cuts. They took advantage of this clause to build a complete canal parallel with the brook, later to be known as the St Helen's Canal.

The motive behind this navigation was bring coal from pits around St Helen's to Liverpool at considerably less cost than was possible by pack-horses, which were the only practical alternative. The need for transporting coal was caused by the emerging Industrial Revolution.

Another coal owner in the area was the Duke of Bridgewater, with mines at Worsley, and a demand for coal in the twin towns of Manchester and Salford. His original proposal, shown here along with an earlier one from Wigan, was for a canal from his pits to Salford, on the North side of the Irwell.

See also our UK Canals page.