The Bridgewater Canal

How did the building of the Bridgewater Canal, opened in 1761, overcome many of the problems of canal building?

The Duke appointed James Brindley (1716 - 1772), a millwright, as his consultant engineer, to work with his estate manager John Gilbert (1724-1795). Brindley was poorly educated. He had gained a reputation for finding solutions to problems. He went on to be Britain's most famous canal engineer and to build many miles of canal and long tunnels.
James Brindley supplied the canal with waste water from the coal mines which drained through special tunnels. He made the canal run on the level all the way. There were no locks so less water was used. However he had to build an aqueduct over a river - an astonishing achievement in those days.
In 1762 Brindley demonstrated his technique for keeping the water in the canal to members of Parliament. A mixture of clay and loam (soil) and water was made into a smooth paste. This was used to line the bottom of the canal. This mixture in layers was effectively watertight.
The Duke of Bridgewater, was a man of wealth and influence. He had the money to sponsor an Acts of Parliament and several subsequent Acts to extend the canal further. Because he had the resources he was able to lead the way and to persuade Parliament to pass the laws he needed.
The Bridgewater Canal changed peoples' attitudes to canals, especially politicians, land owners, and industrialists. It demonstrated what was possible. Canals really were a practical idea. For example coal for factories was now easily available in Manchester, whereas before the canal it was expensive and scarce.
Perhaps the most important lesson of the Bridgewater canal was that canals could make huge profits. The Duke made a large profit from it and the price of coal in Manchester fell dramatically. This made it possible for many other industries to prosper.
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