Our April talk was a wonderful trip down the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Skipton to Burnley. It came in the form of an illustrated lecture given by Andrea Smith. We learnt just what it took to build the canal in sections which eventually all linked up. We learnt of the funding required to achieve this feat of engineering and the hard manual labour involved in its construction. Andrea shared her detailed knowledge of this stretch of “the cut,” pointing out the features of each stop and bridge along the way.
Before the railways came to our area the canal was a much better transport option for importing and exporting coal, cotton, lime and all manner of heavy goods. It was safer and faster than the treacherous, potholed road network of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. She explained how mill owners sought to save costs by building their mills alongside the canal and also just how the mile tunnel at Foulridge was built. The canal was so important in helping to grow the local economy by opening this area up to the port of Liverpool and the markets of Yorkshire. Although overtaken in importance by the railway and an improved road network, it is still treasured today as part of our local heritage by walkers, cyclists and leisure barges.