Calder and Hebble Navigation

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Coordinates: 53°42′22″N 1°54′58″W / 53.706°N 1.916°W / 53.706; -1.916

The Calder and Hebble Navigation is a Broad (i.e with 14-foot-wide (4.3 m) locks and bridgeholes) inland waterway in West Yorkshire, England, which has remained navigable since it was opened.



By the beginning of the 18th century, the Aire and Calder Navigation had made the River Calder navigable as far upstream as Wakefield. The aim of the Calder and Hebble Navigation was to extend navigation west (upstream) from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge near Halifax.[1]

The first attempt to obtain an Act of Parliament was made in 1740, as a result of a petition by the people of Halifax, Ripponden and Elland. John Eyes of Liverpool surveyed the route, and presented a scheme for a navigation which would use the River Calder from Wakefield to its junction with the River Hebble, follow the Hebble to Salterhebble bridge, and then follow the Halifax Brook to reach Halifax. It included the construction of 24 locks, 21 on the Calder and three on the Hebble, and nearly 10 miles (16 km) of cuts, including one of 2 miles (3.2 km) at Horbury. The bill was defeated, due to opposition from local landowners who feared that it would cause flooding, from millers, who thought that navigation would disrupt their water supply, and from the promoters of several Turnpike Bills, who were intending to build roads which would follow a similar route.[1]

The second attempt followed a meeting of the Union Club in Halifax on 2 September 1756, which considered how to improve the import of wool and corn to the town. They invited the civil engineer John Smeaton to make a new survey, which he did in late 1757, and produced a scheme which involved dredging shoals, making 5.7 miles (9.2 km) of cuts, the building of 26 locks, to overcome the rise of 178 feet (54 m) between Wakefield and the Halifax Brook, and the construction of a reservoir at Salterhebble bridge. A committee raising subscriptions for the project in Rochdale insisted that the plans should be amended to include an extension to Sowerby Bridge, despite opposition from the Halifax committee.[2] An Act was obtained on 9 June 1758, for this extended route, and created Commissioners, who must own an estate valued at more than £100, or have a personal fortune of more than £3,000. Any nine of the Commissioners could make decisions.[3]

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