Duke of Bridgewater Archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of over 900 individual items relating to the family history of the Egertons, and the acquisition of land and the building of the Bridgewater Canal, including correspondence, plans, maps, accounts, etc. of the canal and the underground mines at Worsley. There is also material relating to the Duke's Dock at Liverpool, and to the Bridgewater Trust. The manuscript material includes letters from the 2nd Duke to his sisters in the 1730s and the 3rd Duke's correspondence during his Grand Tour in 1753. The collection also includes books, journal articles and ephemera relating to the canal, and contains the drafts of unpublished family chronicles compiled by Strachan Holme, librarian at Bridgewater House during the 1920s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, the 'Canal Duke', inherited his title at the age of 11. After a broken engagement to Elizabeth Gunning, he devoted himself to his vast estates, especially Worsley, which were rich in coal. The Duke and his agent in Worsley, John Gilbert, determined to build a canal from Worsley to Manchester and Salford to convey coal to these expanding markets. James Brindley was engaged as engineer for the project. The first Bridgewater Canal Act was passed in 1759, and the canal reached Manchester in 1764. The canal was extended to Runcorn in 1776, linking Manchester with the Mersey estuary. The Duke died in 1803 and is buried at Little Gaddesden, near Ashridge in Hertfordshire.

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Open for consultation

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Archivist's Note

Multilevel description created by Ian Johnston, April 2007

Corporate Names

Geographical Names