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Company of Proprietors of the Calder and Hebble Navigation


Records of the Company of Proprietors of the Calder and Hebble Navigation: byelaws 1942, stock and shareholding records 1903-1948, financial records 1760-1946, tolls and traffic 1853-1951, maps and plans of the navigation 1757-1900, navigation cuts and alterations 1791-1816, plans of land and estates 1819-1854, locks and bridges 1781-1879, warehouses and wharf at Wakefield 1787-late 19th century, buildings and wharf at Horbury Bridge 1791-mid 19th century, buildings alongside the navigation 1822-late 19th century, buildings and wharf at Halifax 1827-late 19th century, buildings and wharf at Sowerby Bridge 1826-mid 19th century, machinery, plant and installations 1851, plans concerning company court cases 1817, the Calder Carrying Company Ltd 1930-1938, Huddersfield Canal 1947-1948.



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Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

The Aire and Calder Navigation being established, plans of an extension up the River Calder from Wakefield grew for carrying wool and corn (and later coal). In 1740-1741, John Eyes and Thomas Steers surveyed the River Calder and its tributary the Hebble for improvements but a Bill was defeated over fears of flooding and mill concerns. John Smeaton proposed a scheme the use the River Calder and go up either the Hebble or Halifax brook, firstly to Salterhebble below Wakefield and then to Sowerby Bridge. John Eyes did the survey and the 1758 Act passed for a Calder or Upper Calder Navigation to Sowerby Bridge and a Hebble navigation to Salterhebble, with John Smeaton as engineer, Joseph Nickalls as assistant and Richard Townley as treasurer. In 1764 the river was open to Brighouse. In 1765 John Smeaton was dismissed and James Brindley was brought in for a year. Salterhebble was reached in 1767 but the navigation was damaged by floods in the winter. John Smeaton returned to undertake repairs but more floods closed the river and money was needed to reopen. An Act of 1769 incorporated the Company of Proprietors of the Calder and Hebble Navigation with Richard Townley as chairman. The navigation was reopened to Salterhebble in 1769 and to Sowerby Bridge in 1770 with Luke Holt and Robert Carr as resident engineers. In about 1768, John Longbotham surveyed from the navigation at Brighouse to near Halifax and in 1770 he surveyed from the navigation at Dewsbury up to Birstall and another proposed branch via Cleckheaton to Bradford. William Jessop surveyed a new cut between Mirfield and Shepley Bridge, excavated by John Pinkerton. John Smeaton recommended alterations in the locks in 1779 and the staircase at Salterhebble and single lock at Brooksmouth were replaced by three single locks. In 1785 Battye Ford cut was extended above Mirfield under William Jessop. The Huddersfield and Rochdale Acts of 1794 encouraged further improvements and in 1796 and 1797 warehouses were opened at Salterhebble and Sowerby Bridge. In 1798 the Thornhill cut opened at Dewsbury. More stables and wharfage were built at Sowerby Bridge to cope with the expected Rochdale traffic, which began in 1804. The company set up a weighing machine at Sowerby Bridge in 1805 to check cargoes and in 1808 the company required boats to carry guaging marks to prevent fraud. In 1808 a new cut was opened above Brighouse at Brookfoot. In 1812 a cut to Fall Ing, Wakefield, was extended. In 1815 the Elland cut was extended to join Sowerby Bridge. Fly boats started in 1825 between Manchester and Wakefield. In 1828 the branch canal to Halifax from Salterhebble opened with 14 locks and water supplied by pump from Salterhebble Basin via a tunnel and shaft, engineered by Thomas Bradley. More improvements took place in the 1830s but the idea to canalise the navigation was modified due to mill needs. The Calder and Hebble Navigation company undertook to buy mills in order to control water supply. The Act of 1834 authorising the improvements to Mirfield, and possibly to Brighouse, included larger locks. In actuality, by 1838 a new cut was made to Horbury with 2 new locks; a side cut and lock at Horbury Bridge; and a new lock was built at Thornes above Fall Ing. There were now 28 locks, 4 flood locks and 4 sets of flood gates. In 1841 the Manchester and Leeds Railway was opened parallel with the Rochdale Canal and the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The Calder and Hebble navigation's share price dropped and in 1843 they decided to lease the navigation to the Manchester and Leeds Railway. From 1844, the navigation was under railway control but the lease was given up in 1847 because it had never been legally authorised. In 1855 the Calder and Hebble Navigation company made a traffic agreement with the Aire and Calder Navigation company and in 1865 the Aire and Calder leased the Calder and Hebble for 21 years, with an option to purchase. In 1878 the Aire and Calder Navigation arranged a 99 year lease of the Dewsbury cut which the Calder and Hebble Navigation had sold derelict in 1861 to Lord Savile's trustees, who had built on the banks. The Aire and Calder Navigation re-opened the cut to traffic and built a new basin at the Savile Town development. In 1882 the Aire and Calder started work on enlarging the Calder and Hebble locks with W H Bartholomew supervising. The lease expired in 1885 and was not renewed. The Calder and Hebble Navigation rebuilt their overbridges in steel and created the Calder Carrying Company in the early 1900s. Traffic slowly declined on the navigation through the twentieth century and modernisation was limited to new cranes and coal storage facilities. In 1942 the Halifax branch was abandoned as unprofitable. In 1944 the company bought Sir John Ramsden's Canal and part of the Huddersfield Canal from the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR). In 1948 the canal was nationalised and the Calder Carrying Company bought by the Hargreaves group. Traffic declined further in the 1950s with the Rochdale Canal abandoned in 1952. There were no cargoes up to Sowerby Bridge after 1955 and by 1958 traffic above Thornhill power station, below Dewsbury, was negligible. The power station traffic continued to 1981 from a local colliery staithe. The navigation still remains open. For further information on the Calder and Hebble Navigation see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain the complete original structure of record-keeping from the records held for this company. The fonds has been arranged into series by subject, which is how some of the records may have originally been kept. The company's byelaws and stock and shareholding records have been placed first, followed by financial records and tolls and traffic. These are followed by maps and plans of the navigation, cuts and alterations to the navigation, plans of land and estates and locks and bridges. Then follow series' BW85/9-13 which have been arranged geographically from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge. So these progress from warehouses and wharf at Wakefield, buildings and wharf at Horbury Bridge and buildings alongside the navigation to buildings and wharf at Halifax and buildings and wharf at Sowerby Bridge. Machinery, plant and installations follow this, then plans concerning company court cases. At the end of the collection are records relating to the Calder Carrying Company Ltd and records relating to Huddersfield Canal.