Caledonian Canal

Historical Canal Maps: NarrowBoat, Summer 2013

Richard Dean

Richard Dean follows the building of the canal on an 1915 map

In conducting their business over the years, both Houses of Parliament often ordered the printing and distribution of relevant letters, reports and accounts. The huge number of these parliamentary papers is a mine of information; many contain important maps, plans and diagrams. Transport historians have fared particularly well, a good example being the set of annual reports by the Caledonian Canal Commissioners covering the full 117 years of their existence. The Commission was constituted by an Act of 1803, and charged by the government with arranging and administering for them the construction of this strategic waterway across central Scotland, to what was then ship canal standards. With Telford and Jessop as engineers the planning was good, but the limited annual allocation of funds slowed construction, and opening was delayed until 1822. Many of the reports during the building period contain maps of the scheme. For 1804, 1805 and 1806 there is a map of the whole projected route, a…

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