Bottom Boat Canal

Historical Canal Maps: NarrowBoat, Summer 2024

Richard Dean

Richard Dean illustrates a short but contentious Yorkshire scheme

A plan of around 1810 with the completed Aire & Calder Navigation canal in blue and the proposed extension in yellow. The old Lake Lock in 1775. Only 950 yards long, unfinished and unused, Bottom Boat Canal, a private canal, was nevertheless a catalyst for major waterway development in the West Riding of Yorkshire and its story can be seen through contemporary maps and plans. The winding River Calder was opened up from Castleford to Wakefield in around 1702, using only three small locks and no significant cutting, and this rather basic navigation was virtually unchanged for well over a century. The massive growth in trade enriched the Aire & Calder Navigation company but it was slow and cautious when it came to improvements. Lake Lock, with its weir and short cut, was typical but, towards the end of the 18th century, A&CN considered extending the cut downstream to Bottom Boat with a deeper lock there, cutting off a large loop in the river beset with shoals. Of t…

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Bottom Boat Canal featured image