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British Industrial History

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Grand Junction Canal

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General View of Beam.
Cylinder Head, Piston Rod and Valve Gear.
Hand Starting Gear.
End of Beam with Crosshead at Top of Piston Rod.

1792 a survey was conducted for a link between Hampton Gay on the Oxford Canal to Islesworth on the Thames.

However, in 1793 the route from Braunston to Bedford on the Thames was favoured and this stretch was called the Grand Junction Canal. It is the longest stretch of the Grand Union Canal.

1803 A Beam engine (see illustrated) was erected for the Grand Junction Canal at its Tring Ford Pumping Station in 1803 by Mr Jonathan Woodhouse, the estimate being for erecting an engine to lift 1,659,960 gallons of water in twenty-four hours 75ft high. The engine was originally a Watt engine, subsequently modified to the Cornish type as higher duty and greater economy were demanded of it. [1]

1805 completed by engineer William Jessop and his assistant James Barnes, not without difficulty as it needed extensive cuttings and locks at Braunston Hill, Blisworth Hill and the Chilterns. Large tunnels were cut at Blisworth and Braunston which were very costly to the project in time and money.

By 1805 trade from Birmingham to London was via Warwick, Braunston and the Grand Junction.

1806 The aqueduct at Wolverton (Cosgrove Aqueduct) burst its banks during a storm and flooded the valley. Then two years later it collapsed completely. It was initially replaced with a wooden trunk, then by the heavy iron channel that is there today.

The Grand Junction Canal had eight branches, the last being that of Slough in 1883.[2]

The section of the main line between Brentford and Braunston (Grand Junction Canal), was built as a 'wide' or 'broad' canal - that is, its locks were wide enough to accommodate two narrow boats abreast (side by side) or a single wide barge up to 14 feet in beam [3].

1901 J. and H. Gwynne erected an inclined plane as a barge lift at Foxton, Leicestershire to a design by Gordon Cale Thomas and B. James Thomas [4] - see Foxton Canal Museum and Foxton Canal Lift

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1927/04/22
  2. British Waterways Grand Union Canal part1
  4. Fielden’s Magazine Vol 4