The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Britain built by one company but it was not built in one go. The easy bit was done first - from Bingley to Skipton - which is lock free and this took about seven years. Construction then went from the sublime to the ridiculous with the stretch from Leeds to Bingley - staircases (3 x 2step, 4 x 3step and 1 x 5step) and swing bridges (too many). This was followed by Wigan to Liverpool and finally Wigan was linked to Skipton in 1816. The total length is 127 miles with 91 locks The locks on the Wigan-Leeds stretch are 60ft long and 14ft3ins wide to accommodate large load carrying barges and boats form Liverpool. For pleasure users today this can present problems as the predominant gauge on the narrow canals accepts boats up to 70ft long. The prime reason for constructing the canal was to service the Yorkshire wool and Lancashire cotton trades and, although beset by water supply problems from day one, it did not succumb to the competition from the railways until the 20th century.
At the mid point between Leeds and Liverpool is the village of Church which grey up around the calico printing works of Sir Robert Peel (that man again!). The guide books declare that there is a beautiful window in the church by Burne-Jones but we have never been able to gain access to view it. We passed through there on Sunday which should have been a good day to try but could not moor closer than 4ft from the bank due to the low water level. With a gale blowing to add to the problem we finally abandoned our attempts and continued cruising towards Blackburn.
To mark its position on the canal Church has erected a Half Way marker.
The next village of Rishton has also erected a mural to the canal.