Bolton and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal – 1772


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A recent news article about the Leeds and Liverpool canal being drained, prompted us to delve into our library to see what gems history holds.  Here’s an excerpt on its relation to the township of Bolton from the book Histories of Bolton and Bowling [townships of Bradford] by William Cudworth 1891.

Bolton and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal – 1772

The movement, originated in [1770], for connecting the town of Bradford with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, materially affected Bolton, as a considerable length of the Bradford Canal runs through the lower portion of the township. The first sod was cut on the 1st February, [1772], this being the earliest inroad made into the precincts of Bolton by anything approaching to the nature of public works. The subsequent fouling of the water, the closing of the navigation in [1867], and its re-opening in [1872] (just one hundred years after it was commenced), are matters of recent occurrence.

The Act for making a New Cut or Canal from Bradford to join the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Windhill, under the title of ‘The Company of Proprietors of Bradford Navigation’ was obtained in [1771]. The Act for constructing the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was obtained in [1770]. The Bradford Cut was designed to start from Hoppy Bridge, Broadstones (the site of which is not far from the centre of Forster Square), passing through the townships of Bolton and Idle, till a junction was effected with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Windhill.

In May, [1772], an agreement was entered into by Abraham Balme, acting for the Canal Company, and John Rawson, of Bolton, for the purchase of land required from the estate of the latter for the construction of a portion of the canal. The price fixed upon for the ground required was after the rate of £60 an acre, Mr. Rawson to have a ‘pack and prime’ way thereon to and from Bradford and to and from Frizinghall Mill.

The first portion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was opened for traffic in [1777], and about the same time the branch from Windhill to Bradford was opened under the title of the ‘Bradford Navigation.’ It is somewhat remarkable to what an extent the scheme of navigation from Leeds to Liverpool was indebted to the enterprise and capital of Bradford men. From a list of proprietors before us we gather that not fewer than 210 shares were held by forty-six persons in Bradford. John Hustler, the Quaker, of Bolton House, was the moving spirit. Mr. Hustler prepared a pamphlet in explanation of the plan of the canal, published in 1788, showing the commercial value of the navigation, the compilation of which was an evidence of his practical knowledge of such matters.

Excerpt from Histories of Bolton and Bowling [townships of Bradford] by William Cudworth 1891


Further Reading and External Links

BBC News – Leeds and Liverpool Canal Video News Clip