Canal history

The Rochdale Canal Company horse drawn boat, Edward. Photo courtesy of Pennine Horizons Digital Archive.The Rochdale Canal Company horse drawn boat, Edward. Photo courtesy of Pennine Horizons Digital Archive.

Why the canal was built

Industry and trade grew rapidly in the second half of the 18th Century as the Industrial Revolution brought great prosperity. Growing businesses built mills and factories, but most roads were little more than trackways, on which ox carts and pack horses carried small amounts of goods. Something had to be done to meet the growing need to carry more and more raw materials and goods. A single packhorse could carry a load of up to 100kg, but a boathorse could pull a load of up to 500 times this amount, so the cost and effort of digging canals would soon be repaid.

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