Home  / BW46


Commissioners of the River Ure Navigation


Records of the Commissioners of the River Ure Navigation: plans of the navigation 1766-1767.



Reference code


Access Status

These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /​ Biographical history

The Act to make the River Ure navigable to Ox Close above Boroughbridge was passed in 1767. The canal to be built between Ox Close and Ripon was the responsibility of the same commissioners. Unusually, the commissioners also had powers to vary the freight charges on the navigation. William Jessop surveyed for the works and completed them under John Smeaton's supervision. John Smith was resident engineer. Work on the canal began in 1770.When the whole length opened in 1773 there were two locks on the river, an entrance lock at Ox Close and two locks on the canal. There was a 616-yard cut at Westwick, and one almost double that between Milby and Boroughbridge. The total length was 10 ¼ miles, of which 2 ¼ miles were canal. Later that year, the commissioners began letting the tolls. Between 1810 and the 1840s, a ½ mile long private cut to Bishop Monkton was used. From February 1773 there was a twice-weekly service available between Ripon and York. Another service was introduced four years later, from Hull to Boroughbridge. In places the river was too shallow for vessels to navigate and cargo had to be transhipped, such as the shoals at Ellenthorpe. The problem does not appear to have been restricted to the summer but was partially compensated for by the low toll rates. Debts plagued the commission even though trade grew. By 1820 the navigation was in poor condition as there was little money available for maintenance or to provide the warehousing and wharfage facilities demanded from the traders. The interest accrued was nearly as large as the original debt. There was no one left who was qualified to act as commissioner. Several of the commissioners' creditors formed the Company of Proprietors of the River Ure Navigation to Ripon in October 1819 with the intention of taking over. After they got their Act in June 1820 the commissioners were replaced by the proprietors, who had responsibility for the River Ure until 1847. For further information on the River Ure see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's 'The Canals of Yorkshire and North East England Volumes 1 and 2'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.