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Barnsley Canal Main Page

 Navigate the Barnsley Canal main sections by using the 'Related Pages' menu on the right. The pages are listed from the River Calder, Wakefield to Barnsley, and on to Barnby Basin.

  • The Beginning
  • July 1792: The Aire & Calder Navigation Company's engineers were tasked with suggesting a route and an estimate of construction costs.
  • Act of Parliament 1793: The act was passed after some issues with the Don Navigation Company and the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company had been resolved or put to one side.
  • Cost £95,000.
  • River Calder to Barnsley.
  • Work started (at Heath): 27/09/1793
  • Opened: 08/06/1799.
  • Length: 14 1/2 miles (approx 23 km).
  • No. of Locks (from River Calder to summit near Walton Hall Canal Bridge): 15.
  • Lock falls (Heath to Walton): 7 1/2 ft (approx 225 cm).
  • Lock Dimensions (to accommodate boats): 58 ft long (approx 17.5 m) by 14 feet 10 inches (approx 4.5 m) wide.
  • Locks enlarged: 1879 - 1881 79 ft length (approx 24m).
  • Canal depth: 5 feet (approx 150 cm).
  • Canal depth increased by raising banks (1836): 7 feet (approx 230 cm).
  • Bridges - height increased c1828 - 1830.
  • Type of boat: Billy Boys, Coasters.
  • Barugh to Barnby Basin
  • Work started: late 1798.
  • Completed: early 1802.
  • Length: 1 1/2 miles (approx 2.4 km).
  • No. of Locks (Barugh to Barnby Basin): 5.
  • Lock falls (Barugh to Barnby Basin): 8 ft (approx 240 cm).
  • Section closed (by Act of Parliament): early 1802.
  • Water sources
    Wintersett Reservoir (1793). Pumping station at Ryhill built 1803, actually on the Haw Park Wood side at the eastern end of Cold Hiendley Reservoir (remains still visible). Cold Hiendley Reservoir (1854). Both reservoirs enlarged in 1874 by 55 acres.
  • Junction with Dearne & Dove Canal completed 12/11/1804.
  • Toll Revenue Peak: (1817) £16,687, of which £13,688 from the canal and £2,999 from coal tramroads - Silkstone/Barnby Basin.
  • Trade coal and corn
  • Transferred to Aire & Calder
    01/12/1854 (leased), 17/08/1871 (finally transferred).
    Provisional abandonment warrant May 1947
    Last boat passed Royston Bridge 07/12/1950
    Last boat used Heath Lock 10/06/1952
    Final abandonment warrant 1953
Principal source for table: "The Barnsley Canal - A Forgotten Waterway" - see Links for details.

See also Closing the Barnsley Canal, by L.J. Boughey, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, Vo. XXIX Pt. 5, No. 139, July 1988.

❖ ❖ For more detailed information, see the Barnsley Canal History page, and the following web sites: The Barnsley, Dearne & Dove Canals Trust , Aire & Calder Navigation (Wikipedia), River Don Navigation (Wikipedia) and Calder and Hebble Navigation (Wikipedia). These sites were accessed on 29th July 2018.

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■ Distance Table of the Aire & Calder Navigation, Barnsley Canal (No. 3b), as described in Bradshaw's Canals and Navigable Rivers of England and Wales, Henry Rodolph de Salis, published by Henry Blacklock & Co. Ltd., London & Manchester, 1901. (PDF)


  • Barge The general name for wide beam boats used for inland commercial carrying. Although the narrowboats are often refered to as 'barges' they are more correctly called narrowboats.
  • Working narrowboat - general term applied to a range of boats used on the narrow canals and limited by the gauge of the locks and other structures to dimensions of about 70 feet (approx. 21 metres) by 7 feet beam (approx 2.1m). They travelled to nearly all parts of the inland waterways, on both canals and rivers.
  • The Yorkshire or Humber keel was a flat-bottomed, double-ended sailing barge - a direct descent from the long ships of the Vikings. They had the reputation of sailing close to the wind and were easy to handle, sometimes in the charge of a single man, although often operated as family boats. The last sailing keel was in service until 1949.
    The older type of keel was distinguished by its carved and painted decorations in the form of grapevines, and by a tall wooden stovepipe above a cabin at the fore end. It had a single mast, a little forward of midships, usually carriing a square sail, often with an additional topsail.
    Of carvel build (i.e. with planks flush, not overlapping), it had leeboards (a plank frame fixed to the side of a flat-bottomed vessel and let down into the water to diminish leeway) on either side and strong, bluff bows (i.e. having a vertical or steep broad front).
    The mast was mounted in a deep tabernacle - a socket or double post for a hinged mast that can be lowered for passing under low bridges.
    The area of the hull below the waterline was usually dressed with tar, while the upper works were painted in light colours and frequently varnished. It measured 58 feet (approx 17.5 m) long and was 14 feet 6 inches (approx 4.5 m) in the beam and 6 feet to 6 feet 9 inches (approx 215 cm) in draught, some have been recorded with up to 8 feet of draught.
    It had a capacity between 90 and 100 tons. (1 ton = 1016.05 kg, a metric ton or tonne = 1000 kg).
  • Tom Puddings were rectangular, almost square, steel compartment boats used on the Aire and Calder Navigations. They were hauled in trains by power-boats, originally steam tugs but later diesels, rounded at bow and stern. The system was invented by William H. Bartholomew, then engineer to the Aire and Calder company. First operated for the bulk transport of coal in 1865.
    The dimensions of each boat were 20 feet (approx 6m) long, 16 feet (approx 4.8 m) beam, loading 35 tons to a draught of 6 feet. These were too broad of beam for the Barnsley Canal but were used by the the Aire & Calder, the eventual owners of the canal.
  • Bargee - a crewman or owner-skipper of a barge.




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