Leeds & Liverpool Canal


A Working Waterway 1770–1972

For over 200 years the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation provided a vital connection between the North Sea or German Ocean, the Irish Sea and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. Its value to the manufacturers and merchants of Yorkshire and Lancashire was inestimable.

Its first stretch opened in 1773 and the whole canal in 1816. It continued serving the area until 1972 when regular traffic on the canal ceased.

The text we have used in telling its story is mainly from contemporary accounts and the photographs, taken in 1974, show the canal as it was at the time when it ceased to carry regular traffic two years earlier. These are from a study of the waterway made by Broad Lane Middle School, Leeds in collaboration with the Schools Council 9–13 Project at the University of Liverpool.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal Scene
The canal ran a distance of 127 miles (204 km) and was an amazing feat of engineering crossing, as it did, the Pennines.


Leeds & Liverpool Canal Lock
It boasted ninety-one locks and is today a popular location for boating, canoeing, cycling, walking and angling.