Historical Background Notes

James Brindley

Statue of James Brindley, Etruria
Brindley is considered to be the father of the modern canal system. Born in the Peak District, he was apprenticed as a wheelwright at 17. He came to the attention of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who was looking for a way to get coal from his mines at Worsley to Manchester. Brindley was engaged as consulting engineer for the Duke's new canal, particularly to solve the knotty problem of crossing the River Irwell, which he did with an aqueduct. He went on to envisage a "Grand Cross" of canals connecting the Mersey, Trent, Thames and Severn. His method was to follow the conrours of the landscape rather than dig tunnels or build locks. This statue is at the wharf at Etruria Junction.


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