Waterways of England and Wales

1770 - 1780


Introduction to 1770-1780

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


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

Steady Growth 1770 to 1780

The Staffs and Worcs was the only one of the Grand Cross canals completed by the time Brindley died of overwork in 1772. By the end of the decade, the Trent & Mersey was also complete, but the Oxford and the Coventry were both struggling with financial problems.

The Bridgewater canal was now complete, having diverted from its original route towards Runcorn to make a junction with the Trent and Mersey at Preston Brook.

The Chester Canal was designed to bring agricultural produce from the Cheshire hinterland to the tidal Dee. Its proposed branch to connect to the Trent and Mersey was not to be built for many years, and then by a different canal company. Also in the North-West, the Lancaster Canal was proposed

The Birmingham Canal's main line was now complete, and canals towards the Black Country were proposed from the southern section of the Staffs and Worcs (the Stourbridge Canal) and from the Coventry Canal (this one was called the Birmingham & Fazeley but was not the one that was eventually built under that name).

The London and Cambridge Canal was the first of many proposals (none of them successful) to connect to the Fenland waterways from the South East.

In the East Midlands, the Leicester Navigation was an interesting proposal involving three different waterways. One was to connect the existing Loughborough Navigation (the River Soar) to Leicester mainly by continuing the river navigation (although actually using the River Wreake for part of the route). The second (which eventually became an independent company) was to make the Wreake navigable to Melton Mowbray. The third was the Charnwood Forest Line which, had it ever been completed, would have connected the Soar (a little downstream of Loughborough) to the Leicestershire coalfields.

To see an original map of England's canals published in 1773 (by Thomas Bowen, in the Gentlemen's Magazine, follow these links: