Aire and Calder Navigation

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Manuscript copies of papers relating to the Aire and Calder Navigation Company's proposed Leeds and Selby Canal, [1714-1772], as follows.

1. Memorandum, [1771], upon the monopoly enjoyed and the exorbitant charges imposed by the farmer of the Aire and Calder Navigation, and the danger of the proprietors' wish to reroute the navigation away from Knottingley, Yorkshire, '...[which] proceeding would depopulate the... town reduce the property of individuals therein below it's present value and... totally deprive the same of all the natural advantages of it's situation...'. (Single sheet. 13" x 7¾").

2. Memorandum of a meeting held on Monday, 30 December, 1771, at Bluits Inn, York, under the chairmanship of Charles Ingram, 9th Viscount Irwin, held to oppose the plans of the Aire and Calder Navigation to alter the route of the navigation by Act of Parliament. A list is given of the more notable attenders at the meeting. A plan of intended alterations was produced by Messrs. Wilson, Birt and Smeaton, but not considered, grievances of objectors to the plan were heard, and a subscription entered into to prevent 'the course of the rivers Aire and Calder from being altered by the present undertakers...and... [to concert] the proper means for reducing and ascertaining the tolls and duties on the said rivers...'. Adjournment to 28 January, [1772]. (Single sheet. 19½" x 14").

3. Subscription list dated 30 December 1771 [referred to above] composed of thirteen names, headed by that of Lord Irvine. (Single sheet. 7" x 8").

4. Articles of agreement of 9 July, 1714, made between (1) William Milner, of Leeds, and John Smith, of Heath, Yorkshire, on behalf of themselves and the other undertakers of the navigation on the rivers Aire and Calder, (2) Robert, Marquis of Lindsey, Lord Great Chamberlain and Privy Councillor, and (3) Arthur Ingram and Thomas Atkinson, both of Knottingley, on behalf of themselves and other inhabitants of that town. To settle disputes touching the erection of a lock and dam at Chapel Haddlesey (1) will, on or before 29 September, 1715, make one or more new large cuts or sluices with a turnpike in the middle of the dam at Chapel Haddlesey in the river Aire at least 15 yards wide...and maintain them at their own costs. They will also deepen by one foot the drain running out of Haddlesey Ings into the river Aire, and will erect a good and substantial bridge with two leaves over the Aire near the ferry by Chapel Haddlesey Marsh as good and substantial as Beal Bridge lately built on the said river, and make a good and sufficient causeway to Chapel Haddlesey. There are other clauses relating to tolls, flooding, etc. Bond in £2000 by (1) to (2) to observe and perform all covenants conditions, etc. (2 leaves. 15½" x 10").

Administrative / Biographical History

The Act of Parliament which brought into being the navigation scheme for the rivers Aire and Calder was the first of its kind, and was granted in 1699. By 1704, the Aire was navigable throughout from Airmyn, just above the mouth of the Aire, to Leeds and Wakefield. The Aire and Calder became a great success, making huge profits and its owners very wealthy, although little of those profits were to be reinvested in the scheme and the navigation began to fall into disrepair. However, the success of the scheme soon had merchants all over the country promoting their own river navigations and it was to combat the threat posed by the proposed Leeds and Liverpool canal that improvements were begun in the 1760s. This included the building of a new canal to Selby from the River Aire at Haddlesey, which was opened in 1778.

The Aire and Calder navigation Company had been in dispute with Knottingley for several years, due to the use of water by the mill which led to low water levels in the navigation. Many plans were put forward in an attempt to solve these ongoing disputes between the navigation and Knottingley Mills, none of which were put into practice with any degree of success. Eventually in 1772, the navigation purchased outright Knottingley Mills and a new weir was constructed.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the items in the collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Enclosed in a Goldsmiths' Library volume lettered 'Canal Acts, Bills & Surveys 1740 to 1774', (containing G.L. Cat. 10478, 10801, 10923, 11054, 13658, together with MS 488), which came from the library of John Baker Holroyd, 1st Earl of Sheffield.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

See Scope and Content for details.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Related Material

University of London MS 488 is bound in the same volume.