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In the 1700s there were moves to make the Douglas navigable, a river which flows from Wigan to the Ribble at Hesketh Bank. Thomas Steers made a survey in 1712, but an improvement Bill on 1713 was rejected and the scheme was not revived until 1719, the Act being obtained in 1720. Steer, however, did little for the Douglas.

He and his fellow promoters was accused of raising money by false pretences and the whole matter was dropped until 1733, when it was revived by local landowners.

By 1742 the river appears to have been made navigable up to Wigan, 17.5 miles from the Ribble. Moves in the early 1750s to make the Sankey Brook navigable to St Helens were a threat to the Douglas, and from about 1753 the proprietors of the navigation, headed by Alexander Leigh, started on the making of a bypass cut below Rufford.

In 1771 Leigh, the majority shareholder of the Douglas, sold all this shares to the Leeds & Liverpool, who made use of a cut they built for the navigation for their canal line to Wigan. By 1781 the Leeds & Liverpool completed their branch parallel with the river down to Rufford and into the Douglas at Sollom, extended to Tarleton in 1805. By 1801, the river had lost all traffic to the canal.

In 1805, the Sollom lock on the Rufford branch was abandoned, and a new tide lock was built further downstream at Tarleton. In order to build the extension, the river was diverted into a new channel further to the east, and the old channel was re-used by the canal. From that time, only the lower portion of the navigation, from Tarleton to the confluence with the Ribble, remained in use.


Sources


Sources for this article include:

•  The illustrated history of canal and river navigations; Edward Paget-Tomlinson 1993
•  Mike Clark - images

For further reading, see Wikipedia


 
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Last modified: Saturday, 16 June 2018