Saturday, 17 May 2014

Canal Cuttings (17)

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 

Leeds Intelligencer
10th September 1798

A coach-driver, late on Monday night (near the hour of twelve) drove his vehicle into the river, near the Old Bridge, at Manchester, for the common but imprudent purpose of washing ; when, there being a great fresh, and the current strong, the horses were soon driven into the centre of the stream, forced under one of the arches, and in that state they swam, with the man on the box, through Blackfriars-bridge, fighting and struggling for their lives, till one in the morning. The poor fellow in his endeavours had entangled his legs in the reins, but from them he extricated himself with a knife; when, fortunately coming nearly in contact with a dyer's flat, he, by an astonishing effort, jumped from the box upon the same where he lay several minutes in a state of insensibility. The horses, after swimming about the river some time, followed their master to the flat, and attempted to raise their fore-feet upon it; the poor man with the little strength he had left, held up the head of one of the creatures, till, with a convulsive groan it expired in his arms. From the active assistance of several persons, attracted by the cries of the coachman, they had so far succeeded in rescuing the other horse, as to extricate him from the reins, and had got him half up Mrs. Duxbury's steps, when, owing to the tempestuousness of the night, he slipt from their holds, and again plunged into the river, after which nothing more was seen of him.

Happy would it have been had the calamity ended here - curiosity (early in the morning following) called crowds of people together to see the bodies of the horses floating; among others, a group of nine or ten women and children very incautiously got together on a dyer's stage, hanging over the river near the Old Bridge, when, shocking to relate, the bottom of the stage gave way, and they were all in an instant precipitated into the river. Three were recovered before life was gone: The strength of the current rendered every endeavour to save the others ineffectual, and they were all swept away! - The following are the names of the unfortunate sufferers : Miss Martha Rhodes, Miss Anna Reed, Miss Jane Holiday, Ellen Neild, Sarah Petty, (Mrs. Duxbury's servant,) and Richard Boardman.- A woman and her child are also said to have perished.- A boy who was saved was fetched out by a Newfoundland dog. The sagacious animal returned for a woman, but alas, it was too late!

Leeds Intelligencer
10th September 1798

We are happy to announce to the public that the Dearne and Dove canal is now open, from the river Dun, at Swinton, to Earl Fitzwilliam's colliery, at Elsecar, where there are inexhaustible beds of excellent coal; from which the port of Hull, and the adjacent country, may be readily supplied; and which, when the Stainford and Keadby Canal is finished (which is now in great forwardness) may be speedily conveyed down the river Dun, through that canal to the river Trent at Keadby (thereby avoiding the dangers of the Dutch river and the Trent fall:) by which means that neighbourhood, and the most distant pans of Lincolnshire, may be supplied with that useful article. 

The line of the Dearne and Dove canal too will be finished by the 1st of January, as far as Aldam Mill, within three Miles of Barnsley: so that the goods, which have been usually taken to that place from Swinton by land carriage, will be then readily taken from Aldam Mill at a very easy expense. And as, we understand, the canal is intended to be completed up to Barnsley with all possible expedition, the Silkstone coal may then be readily obtained; and that, as well as the Elsecar coal, will undoubtedly find its way to, and be gladly received at, the London market.

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