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Gallery
Market Place Market Place
Note the new building in the photo on the corner.
Regent Street Regent Street
Note the 'Old Red Lion Hotel'
Chapmangate Chapmangate
Note the independent chapel built in 1807 to the left.
Pocklington Canal
1767 - 1815 "That a Navigable Canal towards the Town of Pocklington would be of Great Public Utility" - Article by Alan Cartwright
This was the unanimous resolution of the 1801 public meeting held at the
Black Bull in the town. M. Constable Maxwell Esq. took the chair on 16
November and also on the Committee were Robert Dennison, Esq. of
Kilnwick, Sir Henry Vavasour Bart. of Melbourne, Major Vavasour, Rev.
Mr, Read, Mr. Jno. Bell,Mr. Hugh Nottingham, Mr Robt. Wilson,Mr. Thos
Clarke, Mr Geo. Bagley, Thomas Lee, Rev. Mr T. Plummer . There had been
interest from Pocklington worthies in joining in the Market Weighton
Navigation as early as 1767 and they must have felt that they were being
bypassed by more than the turnpike road when Lord Egremont did not
support them then.

Canal
Pocklington Canal Today

So 34 people subscribed some 87 guineas to a survey which engineer
William Chapman in 1802 undertook. He came from The Driffield Navigation
scheme and presented a report which looked at 3 routes,he included
a route to the river Ouse at Howden and this he recommended for financial
reasons.

Lord Fitzwilliam, who owned the Derwent,was not in favour and for over
10 years nothing further was done. Then George Leathers jnr. working
for Lord Fitzwilliam on the Upper Derwent drainage, surveyed a line
above Sutton lock, found it impracticable and re-opened up the idea of an
East Cottingwith extension to Pocklington. Probable revenue £1,246.50
p.a. George became ill and was unable to complete the survey until June
1814. A meeting was called the next month to receive his proposals and estimate ‘from the Turnpike Road (now A 1079) near Pocklington into the
River Derwent.’

“Pocklington Proposed Canal. At a meeting held this 25th day of August 1814 at the Feathers Inn,in Pocklington It was resolved That it is the Opinion of this Meeting that the Proposed Canal would be highly advantageous to the Country in the Neighbourhood of Pocklington and the line through which it passes. ... Books to be left open for subscription at Mr George
Bagleys ..”


With Robert Denison in the chair a public subscription was set up.People
to put up £ 20,500 in £100 units.
£3,000 promised from Robert Denison, £2000 from Earl Fitzwilliam ( by S.H. Copperthwaite), £1600 Marmaduke Constable Maxwell
£1000 each from Lord Muncaster, General Sir H.M. Vavasour Mary
Dewsberry, Hannah Tate £600, Thos. Shield, £500 from John Lockwood, Cook Taylor,Thos. Johnson, Henry Hudson, Wm. Bayldon and Ralph Creyke jnr
£400 from Thos. Laycock, £300 from Francis Fallowfield, Elizabeth, MaryAnne and Catherine Overend £200 from Timothy Overend, Thos. Smith Wm. Collinson,Bessy Stables, Jas. Silburn, John Weddall, Thos. Clark,
£100 Barnard Smith, Jas. Beal, Thos. Abbey,John Hart,Matt. Houlden
Robt. Gibson,Luke Fleming, Jas. Scaife, Richard Hardy, Thos Knowlton-
Wilton,Davd. Holtby, Thos. Collingwood, George Bagley, Jas. Powell,
Natnl. Holmes, Hugh Ibbetson, Robt. Catton, John Linwood, Robt. Judson,
Matt. Jackson, Thos. Staveley, Richard Hall, Thos. Brown, Thos Beal,
Wm. Ullathorne, Saml. Elliott, Wm. Moor, Jas. Chaplen, Sam. Fenteman,
Matt. Whitfield, Ric. Becket, Eliza. Webster, Geo.Wilson, Thos Wilson,
Wm. Massey jnr., John Ireland jnr., Roger Whip, Ed. Stephenson, Geo
Clarkson jnr

Geo.Leather was then asked to extend his survey over the road to the
town itself.The next meeting (22 September), resolved ‘ that the level
from the Turnpike Road up to the Town of Pocklington should be made
upon the plan intended to be laid before Parliament.’ It seems there was
some dissension on this as money dried up and only after a compromise
meeting (20 October) suggested that the extension be included in the
Bill, but only be activated by a majority of shares, was this supported.
The petition to Parliament spoke of

“the support of the landowners between the Derwent and
Pocklington for the proposed measure” and the Bill was passed allowing
£32,000 to be raised. with only minor amendments (25 May 1815).Powers
would lapse if the work was not complete in 6 years. A company with seal
was set up with the 60+ proprietors.

The shareholders met at the Feathers Inn (19 June) Sir Henry Vavasour
chaired and within 3 weeks all the monies had been subscribed.

The Canal which had taken so long to get before Parliament was now developed
at a pace. June 1815 to November 1816 saw 14 Committee meetings,
the first General Assembly and a special meeting ,all at the Feathers
and “under the able and impartial Chairmanship” of General Sir
Henry Vavasour. George Leather. who now had 3 shares. was appointed Engineer. (He next surveyed the canal line on the tees to Evenwood Bridge later finished the Knottingley Goole Canal and also worked on Goole’s Docks.)
The Committee then announced they “will let by ticket the cutting of
the canal from E. Cottingwith to Hagg Bridge in such proportions and
parts as the parties choose to engage for, having given sureties’ and
would receive proposals for masons’ and carpenters’ work and for supplying
50 wheelbarrows and materials.”

The Chairman was authorised to ‘draw up’ £ 3,000 but the financial difficulties
felt after the Napoleonic War must have reached East Yorks,
there were defaulters. By December they were threatening legal proceedings
and in June 1816 action was in hand against Rev. Thomas Shield.
In all 15 + shares became forfeit.

Labour prices were resultantly low so work fell within contracts.
Thomas Hamer (later -to- be- the toll collector for Driffield canal) had
the first section of excavation. Puddling cost 4d. a cub. yard, excavation
3 s. for 400 cu.ft.William Marley became contractor after Hamer
The brickwork was shared by George Brittain of Walling Fen, James
Grant of Melbourne and Wm. Whitehead of Barmby. Carpentry by Wm.
Massey of Sutton and Ironwork by John Glover of York who was paid 35s
and 6d per cwt. for his work.

The cut began from the Derwent end and each stage was filled with water
on completion and by August 10 the canal was open to traffic from
Hagg Bridge.

Those who were present at that first General Assembly 5 August 1816
were able to see a balance of £431 and may have anticipated a moderate
rate of interest when complete.Few canals were completed without some
problem. In September Henry Hanson, Supt of Works, was discharged
and so the special meeting convened to decide if ‘an architect be employed
to check the work’ but as it was not near completion the decision
was instead made to tighten up control by the Committee. £239 had
been raised in dues. So they were seeing some returns.
Then in Spring 1817 work went on to Walbutt, but “unseasonable
weather for brick making’ held up George Leather and the canal was not
fully opened until 30 July 1818.The 3rd General Assembly had a fully
working canal

It was 9.5 miles long with 9 locks having a larger than average rise of 11’
6” to take keels of 58’x14’3”. There was a public wharf,a Lock keeper/
toll collector at £50 p.a, tenders in for a Granary and buildings at ‘the
Head’ and 2 short branches at Melbourne and Bielby. George Leather was
warmly thanked by the shareholders for coming in on estimate at
£32,695. There was an excess of £2,495 but that was due to the
branches.

Now came the hard work. Thomas Johnson was allowed to provide the
wharf and warehouse at Canal Head 1834 Robert Dennison took land
there for a coal yard and warehouse Bulk commodity shipments (Groceries Timber seed manure bone dust sand and gravel) seem to have been by firms till in 1823 when a liner travelled to Hull Docks and returned a week later 50 tons in
November 1816 saw 14 Committee meetings, the first General Assembly
and a special meeting, all at the Feathers and “under the able and impartial
Chairmanship” of General Sir Henry Vavasour.

George Leather. who now had 3 shares. was appointed Engineer. (He next
surveyed the canal line on the tees to Evenwood Bridge later finished the
Knottingley Goole Canal and also worked on Goole’s Docks.)
The Committee then announced they “will let by ticket the cutting of
the canal from E. Cottingwith to Hagg Bridge in such proportions and
parts as the parties choose to engage for, having given sureties’ and
would receive proposals for masons’ and carpenters’ work and for supplying
50 wheelbarrows and materials.”

The Chairman was authorised to ‘draw up’ £ 3,000 but the financial difficulties
felt after the Napoleonic War must have reached East Yorks,
there were defaulters. By December they were threatening legal proceedings
and in June 1816 action was in hand against Rev. Thomas Shield.
In all 15 + shares became forfeit.

Labour prices were resultantly low so work fell within contracts.
Thomas Hamer (later -to- be- the toll collector for Driffield canal) had
the first section of excavation. Puddling cost 4d. a cub. yard, excavation
3 s. for 400 cu.ft.William Marley became contractor after Hamer
The brickwork was shared by George Brittain of Walling Fen, James
Grant of Melbourne and Wm. Whitehead of Barmby. Carpentry by Wm.
Massey of Sutton and Ironwork by John Glover of York who was paid 35s
and 6d per cwt. for his work.

The cut began from the Derwent end and each stage was filled with water
on completion and by August 10 the canal was open to traffic from
Hagg Bridge.

Roger Bellingham added:

Pocklington Canal shows the problems faced by a small town if it wished to undertake a major project such as this. There was little hope of Pocklington getting results without landed support. This is clearly shown by the fact that this canal did, in effect, go in the wrong direction and joined a canalised river, whose proprietor, Fitzwilliam, demanded favourable financial terms as a condition of his support, and himself expected support in return. Nevertheless, with all its failings, and constructed far later than Pocklington must have hoped for, the canal was vital to the survival of the town and the measure of the support for it in the tvwn recognises this. It bridged the gap during the 30 years before the arrival of the railway. That it was constructed may have been the result of the town's initiative, but it seems likely that it was the local gentry, Vavasour, and later Denison, who got the project of the ground.


Footnotes & References:

1. There were proposals as early as 1765 for a canal to connect the town to the Humber Estuary and/ or other waterways of the region.
2. The Pocklington Canal 'pub. by Pocklington Canal Amenity Soc.
3. 'The Canals of Yorkshire and North East England vol 2' by Charles Hadfield.
4 'The Inland Waterways of East Yorks' pamphlet E.Y.L.H.S. 1971