Wigan 1847

Historical Canal Maps: NarrowBoat, Summer 2022

Historical canal maps Richard Dean explores the canalside industry of Wigan

In recent years there has been a much wider realisation of the value that Ordnance Survey maps have as a historical source, and much information about canals can be gleaned from successive editions. Lancashire is particularly fortunate as one of the handful of northern counties where surveying started in the early Victorian era. This extract covering the Wigan area is full of information about the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the developing industries it served. It is taken from engraved sheets 93 and 94 at the six-inches-to-the-mile scale (here slightly enlarged for clarity) published in 1847. The original terminus of the Douglas Navigation at Wigan Basin is at the far left, with the long flight of 23 locks opened in 1816 taking the canal up to the south end of the Lancaster Canal at top right. Built through open country, this link attracted mill development, with an increasing number of collieries, some connected by private arms, and others by tramroads. Industry was also a targe…

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