Potteries Prelude

Historical Canal Maps: NarrowBoat, Winter 2018

Richard Dean

Richard Dean describes the earliest surviving survey for the Trent & Mersey Canal

Liverpool interests arranged for a survey in the mid-1750s for a possible waterway link from the River Mersey to the River Trent, but no plan has survived and it was not pursued. The seeds had been sown, however, and Staffordshire gentlemen then considered a canal from the Potteries area to the navigable part of the Trent, commissioning James Brindley in 1758 to investigate. He worked with the surveyor Hugh Henshall (later to be his brotherin-law and engineer of the canal after his death). After the proposals were approved by John Smeaton in 1760, Henshall drew the plan with tables of affected land ownerships. The route settled on was from Longbridge (now Longport) with a branch to Newcastle-under-Lyme to the Trent at Wilden Ferry. The shortest and easiest line would have kept to the north of the Trent throughout, but, under pressure from Lichfield, the proposed canal crossed the Trent near Rugeley and looped southwards to facilitate a branch to that city, and also to Fazeley as a fi…

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