Stockton & Darlington

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2007

Richard Dean

Best known for its railway, few know that a canal was originally planned! Richard Dean reveals all.

The South Durham coal pits around Bishop Auckland gradually expanded during the 18th century, some of the output being exported via the River Tees, a natural tidal navigation to above Yarm, but much passing southwards by road carts into Yorkshire. From 1760 a small canal was considered to assist this trade, together with upward extension of navigation in the river. James Brindley was asked to help, and sent his assistant Robert Whitworth to investigate. He surveyed the area in the autumn of 1768, and a joint report was made in July 1769. With Brindley involved it isnot surprising that the river was to be avoided altogether and replaced by a largely parallel canal approaching near Staindrop to within 3 miles of the collieries, and terminating at the shipping quays in Stockton. The canal and its various branches also reached south to near each of the river bridges at Winston, Piercebridge, Croft, and Yarm, for the accommodation of the Yorkshire trade. The total estimated cost of £6…

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