2019 marks the Bicentenary of the completion of the main line of the Lancaster Canal. By 1819, the canal linked Kendal to Preston and Walton Summit to Aspull, with a tramway connecting the two sections. According to the Canal & River Trust, the initial impetus for the Lancaster Canal came in around 1770 from merchants of Lancaster wanting a link to the coal deposits around West Houghton and to the markets of Manchester to the south and to Kendal in the north.
A route for the canal was surveyed in 1772 by engineer Robert Whitworth but it was another 20 years before a route, surveyed by engineer John Rennie, was agreed on. The Act of Parliament “for making and maintaining a navigable canal from Kirkby Kendal in the county of Westmorland to West Houghton” was granted in 1792.
Not all the proposed canal was constructed. In 1819, when the main line of the canal was completed, the canal stretched from Kendal to Preston (the northern section) and from Walton Summit to Aspull (the southern section). The two sections were linked by a ‘temporary’ tramway. The route to Manchester was facilitated by the opening of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal’s Leigh Branch in 1820.
Discover more of the canal’s history here.