Bridgewater Canal, Manchester, 1767
The Bridgewater Canal represents the first entirely man-made canal
in Britain, constructed by the engineer James Brindley and mainly financed
by Francis Egerton, duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803)to haul coal from
his mines to the growing industrial city of Manchester Its construction
is the earliest known attempt to respond to the imperatives of the industrial
revolution, which began in Britain during that time. The no locks canal
linked the coal mines of Worsley to Manchester, 16 km (10 miles) away.
Upon its completion in 1761, the cost of coal in Manchester was more
than halved, favoring its wider use in burgeoning industrial activities.
In 1776, the canal was extended by 50 km (30 miles) from Manchester to Liverpool.
This canal and the others that were subsequently built established a
network of inland waterways serving the Industrial Revolution in the
half century before the railway era, which began in the 1850s. New technology
saw the introduction of locks, inclined planes and lifts to cope with
changes in elevation. By the 1880s, the canal was gradually abandoned
to commercial circulation, which endured until 1975. The canal is now
used for recreational purposes.