Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Call to Arms - part 2
When the canals of England were built they usually crossed land of various ownership. Some land-owners were amenable, or even enthusiastic. Often they were the promoters of canals themselves. Some, however, were reluctant to accommodate "this stinking ditch" The solution was to present a Bill to Parliament detailing the proposed route and its benefits to all who lived nearby. These did not always get a clear passage through the legislature - many land-owners were MPs or Peers and would press for the most favourable deal. (so no change there, then)
The Grand Junction Canal Company had to present a new bill to parliament every time they proposed a change to the route . The original Act in 1793 authorised the building of the main line from Braunston to Brentford with the following arms :
Daventry - not built. But local authority is now planning to build a canal basin and locks which may not be connected to the canal system !
Northampton - to link with the River Nene
Old Stratford - to the turnpike. This was amended before construction in 1801 to extend it to Buckingham to placate the Marquis of Buckingham
Watford - not build
Further arms were authorised by the Act of 1794:
Aylesbury - The Marquis of Buckingham supported several transport schemes including the proposal to extend the Aylesbury Arm to Abingdon on the Thames and thus shorten the run to London by 23 miles. Another plan was to link the arm to the S. Oxford canal at Hampton Gay It was probably his plan for a horse tramway from Pitstone to Aylesbury, however, which finally persuaded the GJCC to start the canal in 1811. The Company had been reluctant to build an arm which would drain water from the summit which was beset with problems of supply caused by the Wendover Arm. In fact the Marquis of Buckinham had even purchased the rails for his tramway and they were eventually used in the Wolverton Embankment. Construction of the Aylesbury canal was started at both ends and by 1813 the top seven locks were complete as was the basin to Red House lock (13). There is some doubt over whether the canal was completed in 1814 or 1815.
The arm is now very popular which is due in great part to the terrific welcome boaters receive from the Aylesbury Canal Society which operates the basin on a lease from BW.
Wendover see blog posting A Call to Arms -part 1
Paddington - authorised 1795, built 1801-5
St. Albans - not built
The last arm to be built (and one of the last canals build in England) was Slough in 1882 - see blog posting 25 July 2007
That is not the end of the story, however. There are now plans to build a new arm from Milton Keynes to Bedford, leaving the Grand Union at Campbell Park and passing through several lakes to join the Ouse. It will not be called an Arm though - for some reason it is to be designated the Bedford- Milton Keynes Waterway.

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