The Trent & Mersey Canal almost joined the Mersey- the final five miles are via the Bridgewater- and did join the Trent near Shardlow which thus became an inland port. All the traffic now is pleasure boats but much of the old commercial building remains. Further south there was a gap in the canal system - boats could not pass between north and south. It was closed in 1814 by the 23 mile Grand Union Canal (not to be confused with the later very big company of that name – though this Grand Union did become part of it). The new canal – connecting broad canals taking boats 14 feet wide- itself had narrow locks, seven feet wide.- a handicap in commercial days, and still to some extent so for pleasure boats. There are two flights of locks on it-at Foxton (two five rises) and at Watford-a four rise and three single locks. (This Watford known now for the M1 service station was obscure until the early sixties). Early in the 20th Century a device was installed at Foxton which, bypassing the locks, could take broad boats. It was an engineering success but a commercial failure and was open for only about ten years. Its extensive remains, together with the still open lock flight are of great interest- indeed have become a tourist attraction. Plans to build a similar device at Watford were never implemented.
Market Harborough-near Foxton- is the end of a canal planned from Leicester to Northampton, which it never reached. The interesting basin, once a commercial hub is now home to pleasure boats.
Welford on Avon a few miles south of Foxton has a short branch canal - our final visit of the day.
To book the tour search Day Trips on the course finder.
Trent and Grand Union Canal Lecture Friday March 24th 7.30-9.30 p.m. Tour Sunday March 26th departing Wilmslow Guild at 9.30 a.m and returning approx 7.30 p.m.