Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Canal Cuttings (20)

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been doing some research from old newspapers and magazines. Covering the last 200 years or so of life on the inland waterways. With particular interest in the major 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. 

The Dublin Journal
Tuesday June 14, 1796.

THE Public are respectfully informed, that the Coal brought down the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and which has been generally exported from Liverpool to Ireland for the last twenty years, is got in the Township of Orrell, near Wigan, and has therefore been generally known in Ireland by the name of Wigan Coal. As there has been Coal lately brought down this Canal of a different Quality, the Subscribers beg leave to assure the Public that they, and no other Persons, still have Coal of the Quality so well known and approved of, and that all orders for the same will be faithfully executed by the Public's Most obedient Servant. As some Freighters and Masters of Vessels have lately been in the habit of mixing inferior with the best Orrell Coal, it is recommended to those who wish to purchase Cargoes, not to buy them without first examining the Certificate, which means the quantity, and by whom shipped, will be ascertained.
The Dublin Journal
Tuesday June 14, 1796.

A numerous and highly respectable meeting was held at Wincanton, on Wednesday, to consider of a plan for effecting a Rail Road communication from the River Parret near Bridgewater, to join the Basingstoke Canal, with collateral branches, Wm.Dickinson, Esq. M.P. in the chair.

Sir T.Lethbridge explained that the proposed rail road was for the transit of goods of all descriptions, including coals and iron stone, (so abundant at Mendip) to various places where these articles were in great demand. The last had become indispensable to the prosperity of the British nation, and wherever they had been found, and cheaply procured, and were connected together, as they were at Mendip, they had invariably, sooner or later, led to the creation of wealth, not only for the proprietors of the soil, but also for those employed in their production and manufacture. The Hon.Bart. here detailed the plan of the road which embraced a very extensive line of country extending from the Parret to Basingstoke, Poole, and the Mendip collieries, and supplying the intermediate country, had for its final objects to connect Bridgewater with the Metropolis, and the Bristol and English Channel. There was also to be a branch from Cadbury to Sherborne, Yeovil, and Dorchester. 
It was known that a body of proprietors of the Dorset and Somerset Canal had a vested interest in a part of the line; but he trusted that an accommodating spirit would be shown, then all would be easy, and a complete communication would be formed from Poole to the Bristol Channel, and from the Mendip Collieries to Basingstoke, and thence to London. The value of the lands, and the wealth of the country would be increased beyond comparison. The estimated expense was £1,750,000, and there was a very wholesome clause in the Bill, which prevented a spade being put into the earth until the whole sum had been subscribed. The Hon. Bart. concluded with a statement of the resources of the country through which the rail road would pass, and particularly dwelt upon the iron stone of the Mendip, and blue lias stone quarries, and the potters clay, from the conveyance of which he conceived an ample revenue would arise to capitalists. The present price of coal at Basingstoke was 30s per ton; it would be reduced by this means to 15s per ton.

The Reverend H.F.Yeatman here rose, and illustrated at great length, and with extraordinary ability, the numerous and extensive advantages that would result from the projected undertaking if carried into effect. We very much regret that our limits preclude our giving his speech in detail: an abridgement of the Rev. gentleman's excellent illustrations and observations, would be an injury to them.

Mr Percy, surveyor, being called on stated his opinion that a canal would be far more beneficial than a rail road; the former was less expensive in the end. On a canal, one horse with a boat would be sufficient for 30 tons. J Bailward Esq. Strongly recommended a junction with the Dorset and Somerset Canal. A Committee was finally appointed, and the meeting dispersed.

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