OTLEY AND DISTRICT MEN’S FORUM

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 …Walking the Leeds-Liverpool Canal 

Mr Pat Clarke

16th February 2012

The longest single canal in Britain the Leeds – Liverpool  Canal stretches 127 miles from the river Aire to the Mersey and needs 92 locks to enable boats to navigate the 487ft rise and fall caused by the Pennines. It passes through some of the most beautiful country in England as well as industrial urban areas. Pat Clarke did it justice with his fine selection of photographs and his knowledgeable commentary as he presented his talk “ Walking the Leeds- Liverpool Canal ”.

Although the majority of the canal is in Lancashire it was in Yorkshire that it was conceived by John Longbottom, a Halifax engineer. He persuaded John Hustler, a Bradford business man to join him and through an Act of Parliament in 1770 money was raised to start its construction. Building started promptly and initially the construction was moved quickly with the stretches Liverpool to Wigan and Leeds to Skipton completed by 1777. At this stage the money supply dried up and construction progress became variable resulting in completion being delayed until 1816. This delay did not prevent its commercial success and shareholders received good annual dividends from the early eighteen hundreds until 1919. The advent of the railways reduced its revenues until commercially it became redundant in 1972.

Since 1972 its function has been entirely recreational. Now many boats traverse the canal, some owned purely for recreation, but increasingly commercially owned craft hired out to holiday makers who wish to appreciate the countryside through which it passes.

Canal aficionado John Morgan thanked Pat Clarke for his splendid talk.


Our next meeting is on Thursday  1st March at 10-00 am in Otley Methodist Church when a member of Yorkshire Air Ambulance will tell us about their rescue missions.     

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