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 promotion of trade and its need for transport was the principal motivator for the construction of the canal. Canals were nothing new at this time. On the Yorkshire side of the Pennines, a waterway between Leeds, Wakefield and Hull had been in operation since 1698 though it was largely the rivers Calder and Aire made navigable.

On the Lancashire side, the Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal was already well-established. Completed in 1761, it carried coal into Manchester much more cheaply than the pack horses which had been used before.