One of the reasons this country has an intricate network of canals is that it also has many navigable rivers that are not geographically far apart.
This is an overview of them, and where each fits into the Humber network. The map at the head of the blog shows their locations.
The Fossdyke is generally labelled “Roman”, which is a catch-all phrase because we don’t know exactly when in that era it was built. Between the years 71 and 74 the Roman 9th Legion advanced from Lincoln to a new base at York, so that may a pointer. It’s now accepted that waterways were crucial transport routes for them, carrying building materials, food, and other bulk supplies. Therefore, the Fossdyke linking Lincoln to the Trent would have greatly helped in the expansion of the Roman occupation.
The Fossdyke is the area’s earliest canal that is still navigable, but it was probably preceded by the Turnbridgedike and the Bycarrsdike. There is a well-researched theory that the three Roman waterways linked local rivers to make a route between the Roman cities Lincoln and York - but to do that justice it will be covered in a separate post. [I know the're not on the blog's map, but their locations and routes need some research before I can include them.]
On the A1041 there's a bridge which crosses a small ditch, all that remains of the route of the Roman waterway now known as the Turnbridgedike
Part of the historic Thorpe flight of locks.
West Haddesley - at the western end of the Selby Canal. Normally the water is at the same level as the River Aire and the gates are left open, but if the river's levels are high the gates are closed, as seen here. The gates form a flood-lock, but boats usually wait in the canal for the Aire's water- levels to normalise.
The canal is said to be navigable for over four miles to its junction with the Foulness River, the waters of which are diverted into its course for discharge into the Humber - but few boats visit.
Stainforth & Keadby Canal
Eventually the shock of the loss of the American colonies faded and the 1790s were the first decade of what can accurately be called the Canal Age. There were so many authorising Acts of Parliament sought (required to raise public funding) that Westminster had to make special arrangements to deal with the volume of them all.
The Pocklington is famous for its distinctive circular lock-operating gear. The used to be found elsewhere in the region but have been replaced.
Although walkable for its entire length, boats can only get to the basin at Melbourne. However, the end of the canal near Pocklington is a well-maintained and pleasant spot.
Sheffield & Tinsley Canal
Part of the Tinsley flight of locks in Sheffield, climbing up to the summit level.
The basin at Sheffield, now known as Victoria Quays. The warehouse in the background straddles the waterway, and there is another, even older, behind it.
Changing character again, the Aire & Calder in the Humber region is one end of a major waterway, the history of which goes back to 1621. As early as that the prosperous towns of Leeds (on the Aire) and Wakefield (on the Calder) were scheming to improve those rivers for navigation. The name goes back to 1699 when commissioners were appointed to continuously improve water-borne access to/from both towns, and over the centuries they did, always keeping up with the engineering abilities being developed for waterways and the capabilities of boats. As mentioned above the Selby Canal was part of their achievements.
Part of Goole docks, at the eastern end of the Aire & Calder. Locks link the docks to the tidal River Ouse.
New Junction Canal
The New Junction Canal crossing a tidal section of the River Don. There is a guillotine gate at each end of the aqueduct, which are lowered when the river levels rise and threaten to overflow into the canal.
Commercial vessels use the canal, and bridges such as this are power operated to assist their passage.
And this is the type of vessel now using the SSYN - Humber Princess taking oil from Hull to Rotherham.