Chronology Part 2 Timeline 1700 – 1789

Part 2 concentrates mostly on the developments in Great Britain. Other major world events relating to waterways are also listed below, especially the goings on in America which, as the century began, was still a British colony (click here for part one).

1700
Since 1660 the following British waterways had gained Acts of Parliament either for first time navigation or for improvements; the Yorkshire Derwent, the Tone (to Taunton), Aire (to Leeds), Calder (to Wakefield), upper Trent (to Burton), Lark (to Bury St. Edmunds, or St. Edmundsbury), and the Mersey (to Warrington).

1701
The Exeter Ship Canal was enlarged and improved. Large ocean-going sailing ships could now use the waterway and reach the centre of Exeter.

1702
The British Government made it easier and cheaper to gain Acts of Parliament to build much needed roads. Only 3 turnpikes had been built since 1662 but in the 50 years from 1702 onwards there were 418 new toll roads completed.

1716
At Tunstead in the Peak District (Derbyshire, England) the Brindley family celebrated the birth of a baby boy. They named him James. The Brindleys were a poor family and James received very little schooling as he grew up. Most of his basic learning came from his mother and although he learned to write, it was very much his own phonetic language – all words being written as they sounded.

In his teens James became an apprentice millwright, eventually owning his own mill. He became accomplished at building and maintaining machinery, especially various types of pumps. This lead to him being employed in mine drainage which in turn lead to him being introduced (around 1759) to the Duke Of Bridgewater with a view to creating underground navigable water channels at Worsley, near Salford.

This resulted (1760) in the building of the Bridgewater Canal from Worsley to Manchester (and later to Runcorn). Over the following 12 years Brindley became involved in dozens of canal schemes including the Trent & Mersey, Birmingham, Staffs & Worcs, Oxford, Coventry, Chesterfield and the Droitwich Barge Canal. James died in 1772 (aged 56) but will always be remembered as the man who created the British canal network which still survives today.

1721
New Acts in Britain since 1700 included the Somerset Avon (to Bath), the Derbyshire Derwent (to Derby), the Douglas (near Wigan), the Weaver (to Winsford) and the Mersey & Irwell Navigation (to Manchester) – the latter 3 were all engineered by Thomas Steers

1724
In a country house at Austhorpe, near the town of Leeds in Yorkshire, the civil engineer John Smeaton was born. Unlike Brindley, Smeaton came from a well-off family and was well educated. His father was an attorney and had hoped that his son would follow suit but John had other ideas.

Even as a small child he was fascinated by mechanics and by the age of 18 he was a self-taught metal worker. He took on many interests including astronomy but his main work was in instrument making. He invented a number of devices and did many experiments such as tests on different types of water wheels.

He became a successful engineer on canals and river navigation’s and was also well renowned for building bridges, harbours, piers and the construction of Eddystone Lighthouse (1755) where another future canal engineer, William Jessop, was his apprentice.

Smeaton’s canal works included the Louth Canal (1760), Trent & Mersey (1760), Fossdyke & Witham (1761), Calder & Hebble (1764), Great Ouse (1766), Forth & Clyde (1768), River Ure & the Ripon Canal (1770), the Grand Canal in Ireland (1772), Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (1783) and improvements to the Birmingham Canal (1789). He died in 1792 (aged 68).

1729
New navigation Acts passed between 1721-1729 included the Beverley Beck (to Beverley), River Idle (to Bawtry), Foss Dyke (to Lincoln), the Welland (to Stamford), the Waverley (to Beccles), Suffolk Stour (to Sudbury), River Kennet (to Newbury), Thames (extended to Lechlade), Wiltshire Avon (to Salisbury), Wye (to Leominster), Severn (extended to Welshpool), Dane (to Middlewich).

1730
An Act was passed in England to make the river Stoudwater navigable from the river Severn to Stroud. However, the Mill Owners strongly objected and the Act included a ruling which stopped boats from using the river between August and October. This was enough to put the promoters off and the waterway was never made navigable.

Also in this year the first American canal was completed, built across the neck in the Mohawk River in New York State. In the decades to come many proposals would be made for more manmade waterways in the US but it would be 60 years before a second canal was built.

1734
In England, the Mersey & Irwell Navigation opened after 13 years work. It provided a route from Liverpool on the Irish Sea to Salford and Manchester.

1736
On May 21st in Lancashire, England, Francis Eggerton was born. At the age of 12 he became the 3rd Duke Of Bridgewater and 12 years after that he was to play a very significant role in canal history…

1737
An Act was passed to allow the Mersey & Irwell Company to build a navigable waterway on Worsley Brook which ran from the coal mines in Worsley to the Irwell. For unknown reasons the brook was never made navigable but the idea had far reaching consequences as far as Britain’s inland waterways are concerned.

1745
In America, canal engineer Loammi Baldwin was born in Woburn, Massachusetts. Twenty years later he became a land surveyor and engineer and went on to build many American canals and navigations in the early 1800’s. He died in 1838 (aged 93).

1750
In America, the Patomac (or Patowmack) Canal opened. It had been surveyed by George Washington to bypass the Great Falls on the Patomac River.
In the same year Thomas Steers, Britain’s first major civil engineer, died aged 78.

1753
In Germany, the engineer of American canals, (Colonel) John Christian Senf was born. In England, another American canal engineer, William Weston, was born. He went to America in 1793 (aged 40) when he was invited to work on the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Navigation in Philadelphia. He died in

1833 (aged 80).
Meanwhile, Englishman Francis Eggerton, the 3rd Duke Of Bridgewater went on the traditional “Grand Tour” of Europe. He saw a number of canals (including the Canal Du Midi in France) and it is said that this gave him the inspiration to create a canal of his own in Manchester (Lancashire) 6 years later. Mind you, he could have done just as well if he’d stayed at home because, in the very same county of England, a canal was already being planned…

1755
An Act was passed to make Sankey Brook navigable. This was a small river running from St. Helens in southern Lancashire to the River Mersey. A former pupil of Thomas Steers, Henry Berry, was employed to make the brook navigable though he actually built a manmade cut which ran alongside the brook, thus creating Britain’s first canal.

1757
On Aug 9, near Langholm, Dumfriesshire (Southern Scotland), Thomas Telford was born. His father, a shepherd, died just 3 months later and Thomas and his mother moved into a small, one roomed cottage. His schooling was paid for by an uncle though he also had to work as a farm hand when not at school.

At about 17 years of age he began an apprenticeship at Langholm as a stone mason. Aged 25 he moved to London and found work on the building of Somerset House. Later he moved to Portsmouth where he worked on harbour constructions. Aged 29 he became Surveyor for the County of Shropshire, a county which was already leading the way into the Industrial Revolution.

Aged 36 Telford was employed by the Ellesmere Canal Company, working under William Jessop. This lead to the building of the mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen (completed 1804). Telford’s other works include the Shrewsbury Canal (1795), Caledonian Canal (1801-1822), Gotha Canal, Sweden (1808), Liverpool & Birmingham Junction Canal (1824) and the Birmingham Canal (1825).

He was also the governments inland waterways consultant, providing advice on (among others) the Crinan Canal and the Gloucester & Sharpness. He was equally well known as a road builder, his most famous route being the London to Holyhead road and he also “civilised” the remote Scottish Glens and Highlands with the building of roads and bridges throughout the country. Telford died in 1834 in London. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Also in 1757 the first part of the Sankey Brook Navigation (also known as the St Helens Canal) was opened.

1759
The first survey for a canal connecting the river Trent to the river Mersey was sponsored by Lord Gower and was carried out by James Brindley. Although this particular route was not the line eventually built, this was the first canal work that Brindley was involved in.

In this same year he was introduced to Lord Gower’s nephew, the Duke of Bridgewater. The Duke obtained an Act to build 2 broad navigable cuts, one from his mines in Worsley to the river Irwell near Salford and the other from Worsley to the Mersey at Hoffin Ferry (near the confluence of the Mersey and the Irwell).

Following objections from the Mersey & Irwell Company these routes were scrapped and instead the Duke gained a new Act to construct a totally independent manmade waterway which would avoid the river navigation by crossing over it on what would become the country’s first ever aqueduct.

The canal would then run right into the centre of Manchester. It is not exactly clear who did what concerning the construction of the Bridgewater Canal but it was probably dreamed up by the Duke, designed by his Agent, John Gilbert, and built by James Brindley.

Meanwhile, a second attempt was made to make the River Stroudwater navigable in Gloucestershire. In 1730 the objections of Mill Owners had put promoters off so this time an Act was obtained which allowed the construction of a unique system to avoid using thirsty locks.

Above and below each Mill where there was a change in water level docks were proposed where boats would be lifted by crane from one level to the next. Some of the cuts leading to the docks were built but sadly the rest of the scheme never saw the light of day.

1761
Barton Aqueduct (Britain’s first) was built across the River Irwell on the Duke Of Bridgewater’s canal. James Brindley usually gets the credit for its construction though recent publications cast doubt on this, giving the credit to John Gilbert instead.

Meanwhile, just a few miles away, the Sankey Brook Navigation was completed. It connected the town of St. Helens to a point on the River Mersey between Warrington and Widness.

1762
The Bridgewater canal was fully opened between Worsley and Manchester. It was so successful that an Act was sought and granted to allow an extension to be built from Manchester to Runcorn on the south side of the River Mersey.

1763
Canals were now being proposed in a number of areas in America. George Washington was one of the early pioneers. In this year he surveyed a route (in a canoe) for the Dismal Swamp Canal. If you are not American you may think this is a joke! It is not. It was begun in 1787.

The name probably ranks as the strangest ever given to a canal, though America’s Love Canal (a tragic story indeed) comes a close second, as does the Muscle Shoals Canal in Tennessee – oh, and maybe the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal.

Also in this year, American canal engineer James Geddes was born near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He became one of the main engineers and surveyors during the U.S. canal “boom” years in the mid 1800’s. His work included the Baltimore-Conewago Canal (1823) and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (1827). He died in 1838 (aged 75).

1764
In England, John Smeaton was appointed engineer on an improvement scheme on the River Calder to the west of Wakefield. This would link towns such as Halifax and Sowerby Bridge to the already successful Aire & Calder Navigation. The new navigation was to be called the Calder & Hebble.
Also in this year, English architect and American canal engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe was born.

1766
In July, in Bradford, England, the first meeting was held to discuss a Trans-Pennine canal (eventually known as the Leeds & Liverpool). John Longbotham was asked to survey a route though the canal’s act of Parliament was not obtained until 1770.

Also in July, the residents of Burslem in the Potteries took a day off work to celebrate the cutting of the first sod of soil on the Trent & Mersey Canal. An Act had been passed by Parliament earlier in the year allowing the T&M Company to commence construction of Britain’s first “narrow” canal.

Another Act was granted on the same day allowing The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Company to build a narrow route from the T&M (at Great Haywood) to the River Severn (at what is now Stourport). James Brindley was employed as Chief Engineer on both canals.

Brindley dubbed the T&M the “Grand Trunk Canal”, His vision was to create a whole network of canals which he named the “Grand Cross”. The T&M was to be the main line of this network with branches connecting to the rivers Trent, Mersey, Severn and Thames.

Meanwhile, an Act was passed for the building of a waterway link between Edinburgh and Glasgow (thus linking the east coast of Scotland to the west). This canal was to be engineered by John Smeaton and was to be called the Forth & Clyde Canal.

1767
Heavy floods caused much damage and destroyed numerous locks on the Aire & Calder Navigation in Yorkshire

1768
An Act was passed to build the Coventry Canal which would link that city to the Trent & Mersey at Fradley. More importantly, it would pass numerous rich coal fields! Brindley was appointed engineer but the cash he was given was enough only to reach Atherstone, many miles short of the Trent & Mersey. It was over 10 years before the line was completed.

An Act was passed for a canal to be built from the centre of Birmingham in Warwickshire to the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Wolverhampton. This would enable Birmingham to link with Manchester and Liverpool in the north and Gloucester, Bristol and the sea to the south. Once again, James Brindley was appointed as engineer.

An Act was passed for a broad canal which would link the River Severn to the salt town of Droitwich in Worcestershire. Brindley was appointed engineer!

An Act was passed to build the Monklands Canal which would connect with the Forth & Clyde in Glasgow.

Lord Gower, a major player in the Trent & Mersey Project (and the Duke of Bridgewater’s uncle) opened the Donnington Wood Canal in east Shropshire. This privately owned waterway was to carry coal from Gower’s mines in the area now known as Telford. It was about 6 miles long and built on one level. It was a “tub-boat canal”, built even narrower than the so called “narrow canals” which Brindley was building elsewhere. (Gower later became the Marquess of Stafford, his son was the notorious Duke of Sutherland).

1769
An Act was passed to build a canal from Oxford on the River Thames to the Coventry Canal just to the north of that city. This would make a complete navigable through-route from the river Thames to the Trent & Mersey and therefore would connect the Potteries, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and even Hull to London.

It almost goes without saying that Brindley was appointed as engineer, and this was the final piece in his his scheme to create a “Grand Cross” of inland waterways. However, all these plans were being held up by the Coventry Canal Company who had run out of money and were well short of their proposed junction with the Trent & Mersey.

1770
American canal engineer (Judge) Benjamin Wright was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut. His work included the Blackstone Canal (1822), the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal (1824), the Delaware & Hudson Canal (1825) and the James River & Kanawha Canal (1835). He died in 1842 (aged 72).

Back in Britain, an initial meeting in 1766 and a survey conducted by the inexperienced John Longbotham, for a trans-Pennine canal from Leeds to Liverpool had lead to nothing. The promoters now had their proposed route re-surveyed by James Brindley and his assistant Robert Whitworth. A bill was put forward and the Act to commence work was obtained.

During the same year and also in Yorkshire, the Calder & Hebble Navigation opened, connecting the wool industries of Halifax and Sowerby Bridge to the Aire & Calder Navigation at Wakefield.

1771
Three years after the main line of the Donnington Wood Canal opened, Lord Gower added a new branch at Hughe’s Bridge near Lilleshall Abbey. The branch had no direct connection with the main line as it was on a much lower level. To overcome this the branch line ended inside a tunnel where shafts were dug allowing limestone and other goods to be hoisted by crane out of the tunnel onto the main line. The branch itself had 3 short arms which ran to quarries at Lilleshall and Pitchcroft.

1772
James Brindley, aged just 56, died at Turnhurst in Staffordshire. It is thought that he caught a cold while surveying a route for the Caldon Canal although he was also suffering from diabetes. During this same year his Staffs & Worcs and Birmingham canals both opened.

Elsewhere in England, the St Helens Canal (or Sankey Brook) was extended and improved. Also, an Act was passed to build a broad canal from Chester on the River Dee to the Trent & Mersey at Middlewich. This was proposed by the gentlemen of Chester who feared that the T&M would attract ships & barges to Liverpool and cause Chester & the River Dee to suffer.

1773
The first survey took place for a route which would cross the north of Scotland, linking the north east coast to the west coast. However, no Act was sought at this point.

1774
The first part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal opened, running from Liverpool to Newburgh, a distance of 28 miles. At Newburgh it connected with the River Douglas (which was owned by the L&L Company). This allowed a through-route from Liverpool to the town of Wigan.

In Gloucestershire, the Stroudwater Canal was begun (using an Act passed in 1759) which would link the River Severn to Stroud. Work was stopped by an injunction because the Act had not permitted the construction of a manmade cut but had allowed only for the conversion of the nearby River Stroudwater.

1775
War broke out in America between the British settlers (who wanted independence) and the British government (who didn’t want to give them it)! At first this had little effect on the people and businesses of Britain but soon it took its toll as money which would normally have been ploughed into canal schemes was now used to fund the government’s efforts to keep America as a British colony.

This brought to an end the first wave of British “canal mania”. Most schemes which were still at the planning stage were either put on hold or completely shelved. Those which were caught in mid-construction either struggled on with reduced funds or put further work on hold.

In America there had not yet been a “canal mania” though many schemes had been put forward and river navigations were being created, extended and upgraded.

1776
Totally oblivious to the war for independence, American canal engineer Nathan S. Roberts was born in Piles Grove, New Jersey. His work included the Erie Canal from the Seneca River to Rochester (1810), Pennsylvania Main Line Canal (1825), Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (1828) and the enlargement of the Erie Canal (1835). He retired in 1841 and died in 1852 (aged 76).

Back in Britain, the Stoudwater Canal Company obtained a new Act of Parliament and were able to continue work which had been started 2 years earlier between the Severn and Stroud.

Clearly the war in America was not effecting everybody as two more canals obtained Acts (on the same day) in 1776. The first was the Stourbridge Canal which was to connect the Staffs & Worcs at Stourton to the town of Stourbridge.

The second was the Dudley Canal which was to run from the numerous coal fields of Dudley (in the “Black Country”) to Black Delph where it would meet the Stourbridge Canal. No link was made from the Dudley Canal to the nearby Birmingham Canal, partly due to competition between the two companies but also due to the hilly terrain between the two waterways.

The prominent businessmen of Loughborough secured an Act to create the River Soar Navigable from their town, heading northwards, to the Trent near Long Eaton. The engineers were John Smith and John May.

1777
American canal engineer David Stanhope Bates was born in Morristown, New Jersey. His work included the Irondiquoit section of Erie Canal (1810), Rochester aqueduct which takes the Erie over the Genesee River (1823), Ohio & Erie Canal and the Miami & Erie Canal (1824), Ohio River canal around the falls at Louisville (1825) and New York’s Chenango Canal (1829). He died in 1839 (aged 62).

In Britain, the Trent & Mersey Canal opened after 11 years of hard work. Despite its name it did not actually connect with the Mersey but with the Bridgewater Canal at Preston Brook. The Bridgewater completed the journey to the Mersey at Runcorn.

The biggest delay in building the T&M had been Harecastle Tunnel at Kidsgrove which had taken 6 years longer than expected. It is often said that it was the first canal tunnel to be built in Britain though there were actually 4 others on the same canal which were all completed before Harecastle and a (very short) tunnel on the Staffs & Worcs had been in use since 1772. There is no doubt that Harecastle was the first “long” canal tunnel to be built at around two miles in length.

The Yorkshire side of the the Leeds & Liverpool opened, 30 miles long from a junction with the Aire & Calder Navigation in Leeds to Gargrave, west of Skipton. On route engineer Longbotham built a number of broad staircase lock flights including the mighty 5-rise at Bingley.

1778
The Aire & Calder Company opened the Selby Canal which linked the River Ouse at Selby to the River Aire at Haddlesey. This was built to avoid navigational difficulties at the eastern end of the River Aire and also to counter a similar proposal made in 1772 to build a rival canal from Leeds to Selby.

The Loughborough Navigation (on the River Soar) opened and soon became a roaring (or soaring) success.

An Act was passed to build the Basingstoke Canal though work was put on hold because of lack of money due to the war of independence in America. The canal was planned to run for 37 miles, from Basingstoke (in Hampshire) to the River Wey Navigation near Woking. The route was to be built by John Pinkerton who was a well known canal contractor.

1779
The Leeds & Liverpool Canal Company opened a new “all-canal” route between Liverpool and Wigan. This cut out the need to use the winding (and often dry) River Douglas, which the company subsequently closed down.

In Gloucestershire the Stroudwater Canal finally opened – 49 years after the first attempt to build a link between the River Severn and Stroud. The canal was 8 miles long with 12 locks and was large enough to carry Severn Trows.

The Chester Canal opened between Chester and Nantwich. However, money had run out before the planned link to the Trent & Mersey Canal could be started.

A proposal was made to build the Leominster Canal (in Herefordshire). Thomas Dadford junior surveyed the route, the Act was passed and work began. The intention was to run the canal from Kington, via Leominster, to the River Severn (and the Staffs & Worcs Canal) at Stourport but the whole project became a complete commercial disaster with only 18 of the proposed 46 miles being completed. It never reached Kington or Stourport and didn’t pay its shareholders a single dividend.

1780
American canal engineer Loammi Baldwin II was born. His work included the Union Canal (1820’s). He died in 1838 (aged 58).

1781
The Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Burscough to the River Ribble was opened.

1782
A canal was proposed to connect the Wednesbury coal fields north of Birmingham to the Trent & Mersey. The T&M, Oxford and Coventry companies all supported the proposal. The new canal would run from Wednesbury to Fazeley, the Coventry Canal Company would make a connection from the end of its line at Atherstone to Fazeley while the T&M and the new canal company would team up to make a link from Fazeley to the T&M at Fradley. This rare multi-company effort was known as the Coleshill agreement.

However, not everybody was keen on the idea. The Birmingham Canal Company bitterly opposed the scheme, not because they were against a through route but because they didn’t want a rival company carrying “their” Black Country coal.

1783
Major battles were fought in Parliament between those involved in the Coleshill agreement and the nearby Birmingham Canal. In the end it was the Birmingham company who won and they took over the Coleshill agreement. They constructed the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and and helped complete the Coventry Canal.

This finally meant that James Brindley’s “Grand Cross” would be complete – over 10 years after his death. The Mersey (in the north west of England), the Trent and Humber in the North East, the Severn in the Midlands and the Thames in the South East were now all connected to each other via inland waterways.

Also in this year, an Act was passed to build a canal which would link the two great rivers in the south of England, the Thames and the Severn. This would allow passage across the country from east coast to west. It would also create a through route from the Midlands to London. Robert Whitworth did the original survey but Josiah Clowes was appointed as Chief Engineer.

At the same time a proposal was put to Parliament to create a by-pass around the troublesome upper Thames between Abingdon and Lechlade (where the Thames & Severn Canal was to begin) but the Bill was rejected.

Meanwhile, the war for independence in America had ended. The British settlers were now free of the British government but the cost of the war had taken its toll on many canal projects on both sides of the Atlantic. When the war ended it was not a simple matter of picking up where things had left off in the 1770’s. Britain went into a slump and a general loss of esteem. The gentry and businessmen just didn’t feel good about the country, or themselves, and it took nearly 10 years for confidence to fully return.

1785
Work on the Leeds & Liverpool was stopped due to lack of money. There was still no through route between Wigan and Gargrave though both ends of the canal (into Leeds and into Liverpool) were doing well with local trade.

In the Midlands, the Dudley Canal Company sought and gained an Act to construct a link from its terminus at Dudley to the Birmingham Canal at Tipton. The link was to include Dudley Tunnel (the longest in Britain to date) and was intended to provide a short cut route from Birmingham to the River Severn via the Dudley, Stourbridge and Staffs & Worcs canals. This would bypass the long route around Wolverhampton – which the Birmingham Canal Company were not too pleased about.

1787
The Chester Canal closed down due to lack of money. This was mainly because there was no link to the rest of the canal system after their proposed link to the Trent & Mersey fell through. It was also partly due to arguments with the River Dee Company over the delayed building of a river lock in Chester which would have given the canal a link to the coast. The completed line from Chester to Nantwich was left to decay.

1788
In Shropshire (close to what we now know as Telford) the Wombridge Tub Boat Canal was built by William Reynolds of Ketley whose local iron works was one of the biggest businesses in the county. The canal was less than 2 miles long and ran from Wombridge to a junction with Lord Gower’s Donnington Wood Canal. At the same time Reynolds was also building the Ketley Tub Boat Canal just a few miles to the south. It was just 1½ miles long, supplying the Ketley iron works with coal and ironstone from Oakengates.

Between Ketley and Oakengates there is a rise of 73 feet but there was no way that Reynolds could access enough water to serve locks on the hill so he built the World’s first ever canal inclined plane. It carried boats up and down the hillside on rails between two sections of navigable waterway. (The first canal inclined plane in America was built in 1793 on the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts, bypassing the falls at South Hadley).

1789
The Thames & Severn Canal was opened, running for 30 miles (including a branch to Cirencester) from the River Thames at Inglesham, just above Lechlade, to the Stroudwater Canal at Wallbridge in Stroud. It included Sapperton Tunnel, the 3rd longest in Britain at over 2 miles long.

The Shropshire Tub Boat Canal was opened from Donnington Wood (where it connected with the Wombridge Canal and Donnington Wood Canal via a second inclined plane at Wrockwardine Wood) to Coalport on the banks of the River Severn.

On route it used two more inclines, both of huge dimensions compared to anything seen before; Hay Incline was 207 feet high and about 400 yards long; Windmill Farm Incline was much lower but was over 600 yards in length. Like all the other East Shropshire canals built in this period, the Shropshire Canal was promoted by the iron industry and William Reynolds in particular…..

END OF PART TWO

And so, the first wave of canal “mania” had been seen in Britain, though somewhat stifled due to the small matter of the war of independence in America (we British like to think of it as a “small” matter)! Things were finally beginning to get back to normal by 1790 and confidence was growing. Canal “hysteria” was just around the corner.

In America, dozens of canals were being promoted but so far only one had actually been completed (and that was in 1730). It would be another 30 years before canals really took off in the States though of course river navigations were already being built.

Part I: 4000BC – 1689