Shardlow Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal, Derbyshire
A walk along one of England’s canals is to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. Today we walked a length of the Trent & Mersey Canal. In its time is was just as an important transport links as any of todays Motorways or Railways. Built in 1777 by the engineer James Brindley the canal was constructed to link the River Trent in the Midlands to the Bridgewater Canal and ultimately Liverpool in the North West. Passing from the Industrial Midlands , past the Brewing capital and on through the Potteries, carrying everything from Lace and Silk, to Engineering fittings, to Beer and Pottery, plus of course Agricultural crops, Coal and minerals and Timber. Likewise the return journey carried raw materials and other imports from across the world. Walk along side the Canal here at Shardlow and you can see signs of this past activity. Large buildings, once warehouses now either luxury waterside houses or multi storey apartments. You still have some canal side workshops and of course the occasional Inn.
Canals arrived and with them the start of the real industrial revolution.
In many ways, and reflecting on todays environmental issues, the canal transport system was perhaps the most environmentally friendly bulk transport system. For a great many years the barges that carried the goods were horse drawn (hence the name for the pathways that run alongside a canal – a Tow Path). Progress in the form of the Railways soon reduced the value of the Canal network. Despite that canals still carried cargo up to and through the WW2.
Today the Trent & Mersey is a waterway for recreational traffic
(C) David Oakes 2019