Canal History


The construction of the Lancaster canal was first proposed in the 18th-century to facilitate the transport of coal from the pits in the south of Lancashire to the farmlands surrounding North Lancashire and the terms of Lancaster and Preston. It was also envisaged that farm produce from Preston and the surrounding areas could be sent via the canal narrowboats to the ever-increasing population in the towns of South Lancashire on the return journeys.

The History of The Lancaster Canal.

  • 1792 Building of the canal

    Work started on the canal in 1792 and designed by John Rennie the building of the canal with wide locks would be capable of taking large barges. The roots started just to the south of Kendal and ran due South to Preston. The canal have only eight locks in the whole of its length located at Tewitfield just south of kendal. It was necessary to construct a huge stone aqueduct to carry the canal over the revolution at Lancaster. A branch canal to Glasson Dock with six locks descends from just south of Lancaster to the coast. It was originally planned that the canal would extend south of Preston to link with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Chorley and then onto Wigan. However, the huge cost of the lune aqueduct being built in stone left no monies for the the massive engineering problem of spanning the Ribble Valley and river at Preston. Consequently at this time the link to the Leeds and Liverpool and the further Canal systems of the Midlands was never effected. The dream of connecting the Lancaster Canal with the Leeds and Liverpool never really died but had to wait 200 years.
  • 2000 - 2002 Canal completion

    In the year 2000 and with the aid of a £2.7 million Grant from the millennium commission, the construction of the Ribble Link, connecting the Lancaster canal at Preston to the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Tarleton, travelling along the tidal river ribble, began. This millennium link was completed in 2002 and allows for onward south passage from the Lancaster canal to the wider canal systems of England. The Lancaster canal was open from Preston to Kendal and at the height of its operation fly boats could complete the journey from Preston to Kendal at that then unheard of speed of 10 mph and within as little as seven hours. Quicker than the Stagecoach journeys at that time. However and, As was the case all over the UK, The coming of the steam Railway spelt the death knell for the Lancaster canal as a cargo carrying operation and it fell into disrepair. The growth of the leisure and canal boat hire sector resulted in the Lancaster canal being restored over its northern length to Tewitfield. The locks and the northern reaches of the canal to Kendal are at present not navigable but are currently undergoing a Regeneration program to reopen this northern section. Today, the canal is a much-loved recreational asset for the people of Lancashire and Cumbria with fisherman and dog walkers using it extensively as well as those enjoying a canal boat holiday.

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