Opening in 1801, the canal started an industrial boom in Buckingham. New imports were often cheaper and included coal, stone and bricks, while farmers and factories could also export their products more easily.
Much of the Grand Junction Canal was 14′ wide to allow coats to pass each other, but the Buckingham branch was only 7′ wide. Loading and unloading the boats was not always easy!
“Alf Canvin… told me how one of his first jobs was to unload a narrowboat by himself. The goods were heavy and in sacks. Steadily he removed them all day long, at the end of which he had only partly completed the task and was fiercely berated by his employer… Instead of removing the sacks little by little throughout the length of the boat, he started by clearing one end totally and was working his way to the other. The result was that one end [of the boat] was in the air, and the other about to take on water, but more important the opposing forces might easily have broken the boat in two.”Alan Percy Walker’s Buckingham Sketchbook, a canal story about Leckhampstead Wharf.
The Buckingham Arm of the Grand Junction Canal which connected London to Birmingham was 9¼ miles long and took 8 months to complete. Once the railway was built the competition put the Canal at risk, and silt build-up meant it was disused from 1931 before being finally abandoned in the 1960’s. It is now being restored by Buckingham Canal Society.
Canal and flowers image with thanks to John Nesden.