Countdown to L& L 200
THE DATE ‘1816’ can just be seen on the keystone of this bridge in Wigan, indicating that it was one of the last to be built in the canal’s construction – and, therefore, an appropriate place for the Canal & River Trust’s North West Waterway Manager Shantelle Seaborn (right) and Leeds & Liverpool Bicentenary Project Manager Sarah Knight to launch a year of celebrations in the run-up to next year’s 200th anniversary.
Britain’s longest single canal as built (the only longer ones were the result of amalgamations and takeovers), its 127-mile trans-Pennine route took 46 years before the opening of the final length from Johnson’s Hillock to Wigan in 1816 saw it complete. Once built, its crucial role supporting the trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire, particularly the textile industries, made it “the most historically significant canal in the country” in the words of leading waterways historian Mike Clarke.
Replacement of all missing mileposts along its length will form a lasting legacy of the bicentenary year, which will also feature a re-enactment of the first journey by L&L boat Kennet to mark the anniversary on 22 October.