Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation

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The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation (S&SY) is a system of navigable inland waterways (canals and canalised rivers) in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, England.

Chiefly based on the River Don, it runs for a length of 43 miles (69 km) and has 27 locks.[1] It connects Sheffield, Rotherham, and Doncaster with the River Trent at Keadby and (via the New Junction Canal) the Aire and Calder Navigation.

The system consisted of five parts, four of which are still open to navigation today:-


Formation and Early History

The River Don Navigation Company had bought out the Dearne and Dove Canal in 1846, the Sheffield Canal in 1848, and leased the Stainforth and Keadby Canal in 1849. They then amalgamated with the South Yorkshire, Doncaster and Goole Railway in 1850, to become the South Yorkshire Railway and River Dun Company. This in turn was leased to the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in 1864. By the 1880s, there was dissatisfaction among the users that the rates for traffic were higher than on the railways, and the canals were failing to modernise, as steam boats were banned, despite them having been in use for 50 years on the neighbouring Aire and Calder Navigation.[2]

A plan to upgrade the waterways to allow the use of 300 to 500 tonne boats led to the formation of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal Company Limited in November 1888. The cost of the scheme was estimated to be around £1 million, in addition to the cost of acquiring the canals from the railway company. The new company obtained an Act of Parliament on 26 August 1889, creating the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Company, which was authorised to raise £1.5 million and to purchase the four canals either by negotiation, or by compulsory purchase if negotiations failed. The railway company was unwilling to sell, and it was not until 1895, after protracted negotiation and legal battles that the transfer was agreed. The Navigation Company had only succeeded in raising £625,000, which was less than the purchase price of the canals, and therefore the railway company nominated half of the ten directors, while the Aire and Calder Company declined to buy any shares because of railway influence.[2] Many of the ambitious plans for the modernisation of the system were hindered by a lack of capital, although some further developments took place.

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