Great Britain » Leeds & Liverpool Canal | England

The big waterway in the northeast of England

Leeds & Liverpool Canal | England: Characteristics & Overview

Rating of waterway

Length of waterway: 204 km
Number of locks: 91
Lock dimensions: 18.90 x 4.30
Max. depth: 1.10
Max. headroom: 2.40
Degree of difficulty: For beginners (many locks)
Requirements: no rating
Character of waterway: with urban surroundings, for sporty people, Waterway in reclusion
Profile of waterway: Used by tourists only
Facilities groundside: Good

Weitere Informationen

Waterway has access to:

Aire and Calder Navigation | England
Douglas River & Rufford Branch Leeds Liverpool | England
Trent & Mercey Canal | England

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal
this canal was planned to be the first to cross the Pennines.
Its construction was decided in 1770 and already in 1773; the first stretch from Skipton to Bingley was opened. It was a stretch with no locks, though!
Then, works were suspended several times for the lack of money. Only 46 years later, the canal was finally opened. It was the last one in this area and the costs for it were five times higher than planned.
The biggest handicap was then the complexity and variety of the route. Today, exactly these handicaps make this canal to be one of the most interesting waterways at all.

Houseboat & Narrowboat Hirer / Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Canal Boat Cruisers

Ellerbeck Narrowboats

Penine Waterways / The Leeds and Liverpool Canal

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was the first of the Trans-Pennine canals to be started and the last to be completed. The length and the complexity of the route meant that the canal took 46 years to build at a cost of five times the original budget.

The canal originates from a proposal in 1765 to construct a canal from Preston to Leeds to carry woollen goods from Leeds and Bradford and limestone from Skipton. Prospective backers in Lancashire argued for the canal to start from Liverpool.

The Canal Act passed in 1770 was for a route from Liverpool to Leeds via Parbold, Walton-le-Dale (just south of Preston), Colne and Skipton, with a branch from Burscough towards the River Ribble, a branch from Parbold to Wigan, a great aqueduct at Whalley and a branch from Shipley to Bradford.

In 1773, the first part to open was the lock-free section from Skipton to Bingley. In 1777, the canal was open between Liverpool, Parbold and Gathurst, near Wigan, and from Leeds to Gargrave, including the branch to Bradford. However, at this point all the funds had been spent and work came to a halt. By 1781 enough money was found to complete the branch to Wigan and the branch to Rufford.

It was ten years later, in 1791, that work re-started on building the canal west from Gargrave. In 1794 a new Act was passed, changing the route to run via Burnley and Blackburn instead of Whalley and Walton-le-Dale. Foulridge Tunnel was opened in 1796 making the canal navigable from Leeds to Burnley. The section from Burnley to Blackburn took a further 14 years to construct and the missing link west of Blackburn to the Lancaster Canal at Johnson's Hillock was not complete until six years later in 1816.

The plan to continue the canal as planned from Johnson's Hillock to Parbold was abandoned through lack of money. An arrangement was made to use the section of the Lancaster Canal between Johnson's Hillock and Wigan, and to incorporate that and the Wigan "branch" into the main line of the canal. In 1820 the new branch was opened between Wigan and Bridgewater Canal at Leigh, linking with the rest of the canal system. In 1864 the Leeds and Liverpool Canal took over the southern section of the Lancaster Canal.

The engineering of the canal is very different from other Trans-Pennine canals. Most of the locks are concentrated in groups with long level sections between. Tunnels and cuttings are avoided where possible with the canal following the contours round bends and loops. In some sections the distance between points by canal is twice the shortest distance. The earliest locks, between Leeds and Bingley, are often grouped together to form staircases of two or three locks. The most spectacular feature of the canal is the five rise lock staircase at Bingley.


NO. 5 North West & the Pinnines  |  Nicholson

Author: Harper Collins  / Editor: Nicholson / Language: English
Delivery time: instantly

Navigational notes include: Planning a cruise, using a lock and bridges, winding holes, boatyards and local services. Covers the Aire & Calder and Calder & Hebble navigations and the Bridgewater, Lancaster, Huddersfield Broad and Narrow, Leeds & Liverpool, Macclesfield, Peak Forrest, Ashton, Rochdale and Trent & Mersey (Preston Brook to Kidsgrove) canals. Also: The history of each canal, places of interest, pubs and restaurants, opportunities for walking and cycling. Spiralbounding, size: A5

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