A Canal for a Capital of Culture

A Broader Outlook: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2007

Hugh Potter

Hugh Potter reviews a new book on the western end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

No one, in the closing years of the 18th century, would ever have believed that Liverpool would one day be declared a European Capital of Culture. But much has changed since the Leeds & Liverpool Canal first reached its western terminus in 1774. For a start, it took a further 42 years for the canal to be completed as a through route to Leeds, and another 30 to link it to the docks! But that scarcely affected the trade to Liverpool, then a town desperate for a good, cheap and plentiful supply of coal, which could now be accessed from the Wigan area. As soon as the L&L had links to other waterways, it also offered a route out for commodities unloaded at the evergrowing port, which was ideally sited for the rapidly increasing Atlantic trade. It also assisted greatly in the town’s sanitation – for it formed the main route to dispose of what was euphemistically termed ‘manure’, used to fertilise the market gardens to the north, until proper sewers were const…

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