Sunday, March 27, 2022

Mosaic Monday #171: Leeds and Liverpool Canal

I love history.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I enjoy returning to the UK so often - visiting new places there is almost always inextricably intertwined with a walk back in time.  In this post, allow me to teleport you to the late 1700s.  The Industrial Revolution started in the middle of the century, bringing new machinery that saved time and made some people very wealthy.  By contrast, it was a difficult life for poor people.

A rising population, rural unemployment and migration to towns were the hallmarks of this period.  I am reminded of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which took place in London.  The most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in the UK and the US, it featured vibrant storytelling.  I can still see the farm fields being stripped away to reveal the rising mills and factories of the industrial era.  Remnants of this epoch can be seen the length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  On November 2, 2021, we walked just 6 miles of it!

We began near Keighley, just across the road from East Riddlesden Hall (see December 19, 2021 post).  I was immediately entranced with the curves of the canal, the autumn leaves scattered along the path, the mirror of the water reflecting the trees back to the sky, itself populated with fluffy clouds.  Canals were the equivalent of our motorways, with the boats like lorries (read: trucks) transporting freight.  In the early days of canals, the boats were pulled by horses.  Their legacy? Scenic, smooth, flat walking trails!

This particular canal runs 127 miles from Liverpool in the south to Leeds in the north.  We walked south-bound, and the periodic mile markers (just like a highway!) reminded us how far we had come.

Birds were prolific along the path, but difficult for me to photograph.  Imagine my delight when several swans paddled to us, along with their cygnets!  Check out the video!

Some stretches of the canal were wild and untamed; others were lined with houses.  It appeared to me that some industrial properties had been converted into apartments.  Would you like to live in a 18th century building along a scenic canal?

Early canals usually followed the contours of the land, as it was easier and cheaper to go around a hill than through or over it.  As speed became more important, canals were cut straighter, which meant constructing long flights of locks, tunnels or aqueducts.  Bingley Five Rise Locks are the steepest staircase locks on the longest canal in the UK.  The locks are more than 200 years old, but they are still lifting boats 60 feet up (or down).

Staircase locks were used by early canal engineers to overcome sudden changes in height.  They are very wasteful of water and in later periods, engineers chose more sophisticated options such as inclined planes and boat lifts.

The Five Rise Locks (to the left) and Three Rise Locks (1.5 miles further south) were built in 1774.  Both were designed by John Longbotham of Halifax, the Canal's first engineer.

As luck would have it, a canal boat arrived at the base of Five Rise Locks just as we did.  Over the next 20 minutes, we watched the lock-keepers open and close the gates, allowing the boat to rise 60 feet and continue on its way north.  Below are two videos; the first one is five minutes and shows the boat entering the first lock.  The second video is one minute; the boat is guided into the final lock.  Fascinating stuff!

At this site, signs explained the lock mechanisms and provided maps of the walking trails and other points of interest.

There are 92 locks along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, most of which are grouped together.  The Canal is unique in having many staircase locks, which help the Canal climb more than 487 feet up the Pennines and down the other side.

Between Bingley and Leeds, there are 3 sets of two rise locks, 4 sets of three rise locks and the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks.

As we left the Five Rise Locks behind, we noticed a heron fishing to one side.  I put an arrow on the photo to help you spot it.

Bingley prospered during the Industrial Revolution.  Several woollen mills were built and people migrated from the surrounding countryside to work in them.  Many came from further afield such as Ireland in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine.  The chimney stack you see in the photo to the right gives testimony to the mills of that day.  (This is the same stack you see in the first photo of this post.)

Along the way, we saw more buildings that appeared to have been converted to nice-looking residences.  Who wouldn't enjoy these views every day?

We paused at a pub for a refreshing beverage, and I was quite amused by the sign.  "Beer shortage coming soon ... panic buy here!!!"  
That's one way to turn the downsides of the pandemic into some humor and good old-fashioned marketing!
I didn't know it then, but as we left the pub and this bridge behind, we began to approach the village of Saltaire.

In the 19th century, Sir Titus Salt chose to build his textile mills and a village for his workers here.  With the village, Sir Salt's intent was to create a model community where his workers would be healthy and contented and fine fabrics would be produced in his modern and efficient mill.  Quite a progressive idea for its time!
Today Salts Mill displays the world's largest collection of work by Bradford-born artist David Hockney.  An exciting array of independent shops, cafes and restaurants can be found throughout the mill and village.  We had very limited time to explore Saltaire that day, so we shall have to return!

Work began on this beautiful church in 1856, and it was opened/dedicated in 1859.  Sir Titus Salt paid 16,000 pounds for the building; in today's money, that would be $2.6 million!  The Salt family is interred in a mausoleum on the south side of the church.

Saltaire became a World Heritage Site in 2001.  The only other World Heritage Site in Yorkshire is Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal (we have visited there several times).

To become a World Heritage Site, Saltaire had to demonstrate that it had "outstanding universal value".  Saltaire is a complete and well-preserved individual village of the second half of the nineteenth century.  Its textile mills, public buildings and workers' housing are built in a harmonious style of high architectural standards and the urban plan survives intact.

 We'll be going back!

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  1. ...this looks like a fabulous travel destination. I hope that you will have a safe and wonderful trip.

  2. What a lovely historic place.
    I could live quite well over looking the canal.
    Loved seeing the swans, and the church looks amazing.
    Thank you for hosting, Angie.

  3. Have many, many fun, Angie for you and your Family.

    I love to read the stories about the different places. Especially Liverpool, where the Beatles played.

    Happy MosaicMonday

    Hugs, Heidrun

  4. What a beautiful tale of this spot! I enjoyed it!

  5. The canal is a lovely sight. The swan video was a delight.

    I know Saltaire through another blogger living there.

  6. Wonderful... thank you very much, it was a great pleasure to follow your trip.
    The canal system fascinates me just as much as the historical architecture... my dream is to one day go on one of the canals in a small rented houseboat :-)))
    Thank you for your beautiful photos and your report.
    Best regards to you. Viola

  7. glad you liked the trip. The swans are Mute swans. We have lots of them where I live. :)

  8. Teleporting is fun and we enjoyed each of those photos!

  9. This canal looks like a great place to visit. I like all these photos. Thanks for sharing the history and other details behind it too. I enjoyed watching the swan video as well. They are adorable.

  10. I never knew that canals were a form of travel in England. Very interesting to see the canal boat travel though the locks, and I loved the swan video--they obviously were very friendly and hoping to be feed a few peas, which are better food for them instead of bread. I hope you are able to revisit these lovely places again soon, Angie.

  11. Dear Angie,
    I finally managed to read your previous blog post today - very interesting. Such a ride on a historic train was fun for me too (it was a long time ago)... I was also impressed by the switching station - a pretty building with interesting technology.
    Oh, and I like the ladies room thing too ;-D
    Your post today is also beautiful and exciting. OF COURSE I want to live in an 18th century building on a scenic canal! I love being by the water and I like locks, too. In some countries we have also watched in fascination when boats were let through locks. Of course, I find the sight of the swans particularly pleasing. You probably know that most of them belong to the Queen and that they are counted at an annual "Swan Upping" -
    Good thing you marked the heron with an arrow - it's perfectly camouflaged.
    The beer shortage sign is awesome ;-DDD
    Saltaire seems like a very interesting place - no wonder you want to come back. And soon it will be time! :-)
    All the best and a happy new week,

  12. I really hoped to visit Europe again one day, - so much to see and do - so different to here - but I don't think it is going to happen, so thank you for taking us there! Enjoy your trip, stay safe, and thank you again for the linkk up.

  13. Hello Angie,
    I enjoyed the walk along the canal, the views are lovely. The stone bridge is beautiful. I can not imagine running out of beer, that would not be good. The Swans do look friendly, great video. I almost missed the heron sighting. Great post and photos. Take care, have a happy new week!

  14. I love the English canals and travelling on them can give an amazing insight into past time. Loved your photos, Angie!

  15. I love reading a book or seeing a movie and then doing a search of the location and learning more about it. I would probably like to travel more because I'm so interested in other countries. Thanks for sharing this and enjoy getting ready for your trip!

  16. I love the sign! I guess I would panic buy vodka for my cosmos.

  17. Oh Angie this was so great ! We love Canal Boats and that amazing Canal System! In London, as our Golden Anniversary Gift to ourselves, we chartered a (captained) canal boat day trip (with captain's wife serving as chef for our private on-board banquet). We went through I think three locks on the Regent's Canal -- Bill was able to help which he loved! .. We always wished we'd had time to rent and live on a Canal boat for a summer or so (and now we would need more strength and energy i.e. be at least a decade younger). But I'd take walking the paths and learning the history that way in a second and I look forward to reading more about your visit!

  18. I have yet to visit this particular canal, so thanks for sharing your photos with us. I really must visit some day.

  19. Such an interesting post. In my relatively young country it's fascinating to see so much history in a place like the UK. (BTW you showed up as no-reply on my recent post (thanks for commenting!) - blogger seems to have been doing a few odd things lately!)

  20. Dear Angie thanks for your wonderful share today. I particularly luv the video of the swans and cygnets


  21. Charming place! I enjoyed the swan family.

  22. I could live in a building next to a canal that looked as pleasant as the one you were on. I would think it be a slower, gentler lifestyle. Of course, if meanies lived nearby that would be annoying.

  23. So much amazing history in England. You have to be a very patient traveler to travel the lock systems. We've been at a lock at an optimum time to help with the opening of a gate. Cheers!

  24. Hi Angie,
    today I've a 2nd post for you :-D
    Hugs from Austria, Traude

  25. I very much enjoyed this walk along the canal with you, Angie. How delightful to see the swan family. History is something I love, too

  26. I am looking forward to seeing some of Britain's wildlife, Angie. I know you will be looking for it and have your camera cocked and ready!

  27. Interesting historical place! You are a good storyteller!

  28. Hi Angie! ☺ Beautiful photos, the canals are just lovely!

  29. Wonderful post Angie, the canal systems in the UK are fascinating. Lovely to have the swans visit you too.

  30. I was a canal man, four weeks of canal, that were enough to spend a love it.
    You lovely time when had in England, beauty.

  31. Thank you for the history lesson Angie. I wonder if you plan any towpath walks this year. The one north to Glasson Dock and Lancaster would be very interesting, passing through lovely countryside to Glasson, Morecambe Bay and then through Lancaster City.

  32. Aren't the locks amazing. We enjoy ours here.
    I love the way you talked to the swans! We do, as well.

  33. It is so enjoyable to walk along by a canal ...
    A lovely post Angie, your photographs and narration so enjoyable.

    Happy April Wishes.

    All the best Jan

  34. The canal is charming!

    I enjoyed the swan video.

    Happy April, Angie.

  35. The canal is a beauty and a nice place to walk and enjoy nature. Love the video of the swans. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos, Angie and have a fantastic April.

  36. Wow, what an outing. I'm always been intrigued by locks on rivers and how they work and how they make water transport a lot more prevalent.
    I love how you captured the backstory on so many things you saw.

  37. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful blog. This is really useful and helpful.Visit our site. emergency locksmith Leeds


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