The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is historically one of the most important thoroughfares in Kirkdale and Vauxhall. It was used not only to ship goods to Liverpool from the industrial towns of Pennine Lancashire but also (believe it or not!) to ship night soil (also known as human waste!) to the farmers fields of Ormskirk and Burscough to fertilise the land.
The canal was dug but strong-backed Navvies (navigators) and the route planned by engineers who clearly chose the land in Kirkdale and Vauxhall because of its flat topography in comparison to the south of the city.
The canal also provided a transport service before the advent of the railways with companies offering steam packet transports to Ormskirk, Burscough and beyond.
Eventually both the canal and the railways spelled the end for Kirkdale as a rural idyll. The Liverpool end of the canal served all sorts of industrial and storage buildings in the north end of the town centre. Previously, this part of Kirkdale was an incredibly pretty and fashionable suburb (one of the earliest). Picton mentions ‘Ladies Walk’ where courting couples would promenade with beautiful scenes of the river beneath them. But its proximity to the docks meant its usefulness for commerce was soon taken advantage of, and once the canal and warehouses moved in, the gentry moved out, to Toxteth, Everton and elsewhere. (from Martin at Historic Liverpool)
Here is a brief timeline of the canal researched by Andy:
May 1770 – Act of Parliament authorizing construction of a canal link between Leeds and Liverpool. James Brindley appointed Chief Engineer. John Longbotham appointed Clerk of Works.
5th November 1770 – First sod cut by Hon. Charles Mordaunt, at Halsall, north of Liverpool.
1773 – First section of canal from Bingley to Skipton completed.
1774 – Section between Skipton to Shipley completed. In the same year the section between Liverpool and Newburgh completed.
1781 – Newburgh to Wigan section completed.
Work stops with the completion of the Rufford Branch Line from Burscough to the River Douglas at Tarleton, due to lack of funding. The war in the American colonies halts progress, as does the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
1816 – With the Leeds / Liverpool Canal connecting with the Lancaster Canal close to Wigan , the main line of the canal was completed.
2009 – Liverpool Canal Link completed to reconnect the Leeds / Liverpool Canal to the South Liverpool Docks system, allowing access to Stanley and Albert Docks.