Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,972 pages of information and 233,621 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Caledonian Canal

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This canal forms a navigable route between Loch Ness (at Fort Augustus) and Loch Linnhe (near Fort William).

Thomas Telford was given the task to cut the unusual canal by the government in 1802. It is a sister canal of the Göta Canal in Sweden, also constructed by Thomas Telford. [1]

Telford worked with William Jessop on the survey, and the two men oversaw the construction until Jessop died in 1814[2]. Thomas Rhodes was put in charge of building the lock gates at Corpach where iron was being used instead of timber because of shortage of the latter; the experience gained there enabled Rhodes to develop a standard design for the rest of the canal[3].

The canal was built during the war with France when a safer route for the warships was a distinct advantage rather than sailing around the treacherous north west of Scotland, and employment was desparately needed in the Highlands region.

It took 18 years to cut and utilised natural lochs along the way - it has 29 locks, 4 aqueducts and 10 bridges. The flight of 8 locks called the Neptune Locks at Banavie are thought to be the largest flight in Britain.

Because it took so long to complete, it never served its intended purpose during the Napoleonic wars; however, it did provide similar benefits, long after Telford's death, during the First World War[4]

1840's Underwent a major reconstruction.

See Also


Sources of Information

  3. A biographical dictionary of civil engineers in Great Britain and Ireland ... edited by A. W. Skempton
  4. Britain's Industrial Past, Brian Bailey, 1985
  • The Caledonian Canal by A. D. Cameron. ISBN 978 1 84158 403 4