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Canal Archive: Bridging the Years

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A Unique Waterway

The Bridgewater Canal was not the first canal in the British Isles. The Newry Canal was opened in 1742 in the North of Ireland. Two years before work on the Bridgewater Canal commenced the St Helens Canal had been constructed. The latter started out as a navigation of Sankey Brook, but when completed was in essence a canal.

With the construction of the St Helens Canal, the Bridgewater Canal could not claim to be the very first canal in England. However it is seen as the first true industrial canal, cutting across the county, independent of other waterways. In this respect it is unique and of national significance, its success overshadowing its forerunner. It made its mark as it brought together supply and demand, taking advantage of the circumstances of the time, the industrial growth, and feeding it with coal from the Duke of Bridgewater's mines, thereby becoming an integral factor in the development of the Industrial Revolution.

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This is page 1 of The Bridgewater Canal - The Duke's Cut.
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Illustration of the Bridgewater Canal by G P Jacomb-Hood, dated 1880

Illustration of the Bridgewater Canal by G P Jacomb-Hood, dated 1880
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This engraving shows Worsley Brick Hall in a scenic setting. In the foreground, the Bridgewater Canal is bustling with activity, with vessels and cargoes passing by.

This engraving shows Worsley Brick Hall in a scenic setting. In the foreground, the Bridgewater Canal is bustling with activity, with vessels and cargoes passing by.
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