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The Donnington Wood Canal

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2020

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores the history and remains of a little-known Shropshire waterway

While most canal enthusiasts know about the Duke of Bridgewater and the part he played in the birth of British canals, fewer will have heard of his brotherin-law, Granville Leveson-Gower, otherwise known as the Earl Gower, who shared the Duke’s passion for this new form of transport. Following the death of his first wife, Earl Gower married Louisa Egerton in 1748, the sister of Francis Egerton, the Duke of Bridgewater. Not only did this union bring with it a sizeable dowry of £10,000, it also brought him into the orbit of the Canal Duke and, through him, access to the new world of canals. Within a decade Earl Gower, a politician by profession, was deeply involved in canal-building. He was to become a principal proprietor of the Trent & Mersey Canal, along with his brother-in-law, and, in 1758, he commissioned James Brindley to survey the route it should take. TheEarl was always a man with an eye for a profit, either from dowries attached to wealthy heiresses, or from …

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