Canal Mania (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Canal Mania

Q1: Explain why the Duke of Bridgewater arranged for a canal to be built between Worsley Colliery and Manchester.

A1: The Duke of Bridgewater built his canal because he wanted a cheaper way of transporting coal from his colliery in Worsley to his customers in Manchester.

Q2: Study sources 1, 3 and 8. Describe how goods were transported by canals and navigable rivers.

A2: Sources 1, 3 and 8 all reveal that barges on Britain's rivers and canals were pulled by horses.

Q3: Study the sources in this unit. Comment on the value of these sources in helping you understand why many manufacturers in the second half of the 18th century began using canals to transport their goods.

A3: Sources 1, 2, 5 and 7 all contain important information on why many manufacturers began using canals to transport their goods. Sources 1, 5 and 7 all reveal that canals were very good at transporting bulky goods over long-distances. Samuel Smiles in source 2 argues that the Worsley to Manchester Canal enabled the Duke of Bridgewater to sell his customers cheap coal. Source D reveals that the cost of transporting goods by canal was less than half the cost of sending it by road.

Q4: Explain the connection between the growth of the canal network and the increase in the amount of foreign goods being sold in Britain.

A4: The rapid growth in the canal network meant that waterways linked almost every town and port in Britain. The original idea was to develop a system that would enable British manufacturers to distribute their goods to both the home and overseas market. However, the network could also be used to distribute foreign goods that were arriving at British ports. Therefore the growth in the canal network increased the amount of foreign goods sold in Britain.