Nature, unaided by man, had not been so considerate to {136}Liverpool as she had been to Bristol, to Lynn, to Hull or to Boston. These, and other ports besides, stood on streams which were naturally navigable for more or less considerable distances into the interior of the country, whereas the Mersey was not naturally navigable for more than about fifteen or twenty miles above Liverpool. The navigation even of the estuary as far as Liverpool presented difficulties and dangers 长沙桑拿水会 in stormy weather, owing to sand-banks, violent currents and rapid tides; but beyond Runcorn the Mersey was not then navigable at all. Nor were the tributaries of the Mersey—the Irwell and the Weaver—navigable.

Liverpool was thus shut off from communication with the interior by river, and for a long time the town was not in a much better position as regards roads. No Roman road came nearer to Liverpool than Warrington, and, down to 1750 (as I have already shown), the road between Warrington and Liverpool was not passable for coaches or carriages. On the east Liverpool was practically isolated from the rest of the country by the high range of hills dividing Lancashire from Yorkshire, and there were the still more formidable hills of the Lake District on the north. The early route for a journey to the south from Liverpool was to cross the Mersey at Monk’s Ferry, Birkenhead, and then pass through the forest of Wirral to Chester. Here there was found a Roman road, along which a coach to London was running in the reign of James II. (1685-1688), whereas the first coach from Warrington to London did not start until 1757.

So long as our commercial relations were mainly with Continental or other ports which could be more conveniently reached from the east or the south coast, or from Bristol, and so long as the industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire were but little developed, or found an outlet abroad in these other directions, the comparative isolation of Liverpool was a matter of no great national concern; though how, in effect, Liverpool compared with other seaports or river-ports in the thirteenth century is shown by the fact (as told by Thomas Baines, in his “History of the Commerce and Town of Liverpool”) that whereas the aggregate value of trading property in Liverpool, Lancaster, Preston and Wigan—the only four towns in Lancashire which then acknowledged possessing such property at all—was given in an official return for


the {137}year 1343 as £233, equal to £3495 of our present money; the equivalent value to-day of the trading property of Bristol at the same period would be £30,000, and that of Nottingham, then the great inland port of the Trent, £50,000.

That was a time when, as the same authority says, “Liverpool stood nearly at the extremity of the known world.” But when the known world was enlarged by the addition thereto of the New World of America, and when commerce with the lands across the Atlantic began to develop, and the industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire to grow apace, the need for improved communications with the port of Liverpool became more and more acute.

Such need was the greater, too, because of the fate that was overtaking the much earlier and hitherto far more prosperous port of Chester. Established as a fortress of


the first order by the Romans, at the western end of one of their famous roads, and favoured alike by Saxons and Normans, Chester had developed into a flourishing commercial port from which, more especially, intercourse with Ireland was conducted, and it was still the port through which travellers passed to or from Ireland for a long time after Liverpool began to compete actively for the Irish goods traffic. Richard Blome, who visited Chester in 1673, describes it in his “Britannia” as “the usual place for taking shipping for Ireland, with which it has a very great intercourse, and a place of very considerable trade.”

But, as against the advantage it offered as an inland port, situate twenty-two miles from its estuary, and dealing with the products of an especially productive county, Chester had the disadvantage due to the enormous masses of sand which were driven into the Dee by Atlantic storms, to the full fury and effects of which the open estuary was exposed. This evil began to grow serious soon after the Conquest, and the port of Chester steadily declined as the port of Liverpool steadily rose, the trade lost by the one helping to build up the prosperity of the other.

The benefits resulting from the improvements carried out on the Mersey when, under the Act of 1694, navigation was extended from Runcorn to Warrington, began to be immediately felt; but they also brought out more clearly the great necessity for still further amendment. How merchandise {138}went across country in those days is shown in a letter written in 1701 by Thomas Patten, a Liverpool citizen who had taken a leading part in the movement that led to the Mersey being made navigable as far inland as Warrington. Referring to a certain consignment of tobacco which was to be despatched from Liverpool to Hull, on behalf of a trader at Stockport, Patten says that, as the tobacco could not be carried in the hogshead all the way by road from Warrington to Hull, and as the sea route from Liverpool to Hull would have taken too long, the tobacco was first forwarded by cart, in twenty or thirty hogsheads, from the quay at Warrington to Stockport. There it was made up into canvas-covered parcels, and then sent on by packhorse—three parcels to a horse—a distance of thirty-six miles by road to Doncaster, and from Doncaster it was conveyed by river for the remainder of the distance to Hull. Baines, who gives the letter in his “History of Lancashire and Cheshire,” remarks: “Such was the mode of conveying goods up to that time, and for upwards of thirty years after. It is evident that there could be no great development of trade and commerce so long as the modes of communication were so tedious and costly.”

The improvement on the Mersey itself led to a further scheme for making the Mersey and Irwell navigable from Warrington to Manchester, thus establishing direct water communication between Liverpool and Manchester, as an alternative to transport by road. A survey of the two rivers was carried out in 1712, and a prospectus was issued in which it was said:—

“The inland parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire being favoured with a great variety of valuable manufactures in woollen, linen, cotton, &c., and that in very great quantities, has made that neighbourhood as populous, if not more so, than (London and Middlesex excepted) the same extent of any part of Great Britain. The trades of these counties extend considerably through the whole island, as well as abroad, and the consumption of groceries, Irish wool, dyeing stuffs, and other important goods consequently is very great; but as yet not favoured with the conveniency of water carriage, though Providence, from the port of Liverpool up to the most considerable inland town of Lancashire, Manchester, has afforded the best, not yet employed, rivers of Mersey and Irwell for that purpose.”

It was not until the passing of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Act, in 1720, that the work of rendering these rivers navigable between Warrington and Manchester was begun, and another twenty years elapsed before it was completed. The result of this “conveniency of water carriage” when it was, at last, obtained, was to reduce the cost of transport of goods and merchandise from forty shillings a ton by road to ten shillings a ton by river. The goods traffic between Liverpool and Manchester at this time amounted to about 4000 tons a year; but it had, prior to the provision of water transport, naturally been restricted to the quantity that could be carried by the packhorses, carts and waggons of those days. Hence the river navigation gave the advantage of a transport not only cheaper in price but greater in capacity. It will be seen later on, however, that the Mersey and Irwell navigation subsequently developed disadvantages for which a remedy was sought in the construction of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal.

An Act, passed in 1720, for making the river Weaver navigable from Winsford Bridge, beyond Northwich, to Frodsham Bridge, near the junction of the Weaver with the Mersey (a distance of about twenty miles), was not only of further material advantage to the port of Liverpool but a first step in an important development of the salt mines of Cheshire. These mines have been described as “incomparably the richest of the salt mines and brine pits of England”; but at the date in question their working was greatly hampered by transport costs and difficulties in the matter both of fuel and of the distribution of the salt, when made.

Fuel was required for heating the furnaces and the pans in which the brine was evaporated into salt; and in the earliest days of the industry the salt-makers used for this purpose faggots of wood brought from the forests on the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire. As long as these supplies were available, the principal seat of the salt trade was at Nantwich, in the higher part of the Weaver, and near to the forests where the wood was obtained. But the forests got depleted in course of time, and the industry then moved to other works lower down the river which could be operated with coal brought from the Lancashire coal-field. This coal, however, had to be carried, by cart or packhorse, a distance of twelve {140}or fourteen miles; and inasmuch as two tons of coal were required for every three tons of fine salt made, the cost of transport of raw materials was a serious item.

As for the manufactured salt, that was distributed in the same way, even such small consignments as could then alone be sent to Liverpool having to be taken thither by road. In the circumstances the salt trade remained comparatively undeveloped in Cheshire while it was making great advance at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where the coal readily obtained, by water, from the neighbouring coal-fields was used in the production of salt from sea-water. In the time of the Stuarts the manufacture of salt was one of the most important of Newcastle’s industries and articles of export.

When, under the Act of 1720, the Weaver was made navigable as far as the Northwich and Winsford Bridge salt works, the land journey for Lancashire coal was reduced from twelve or fourteen miles to five or six miles, and the salt could be sent direct to Liverpool by water. The greatest impetus to the Cheshire salt industry (to the consequent detriment, and eventual extinction, of that at Newcastle-on-Tyne, though with a further advantage to the trade of Liverpool) was, however, not given until the makers were enabled to get their coal all the way by water through the supplementing of the now navigable Weaver by the Sankey Canal—of which more hereafter.

In the same year that the Act for improving the navigation of the Weaver was passed, Parliament sanctioned a no less important work on the river Douglas, which passes through Wigan, and has its outlet in the Ribble estuary, at a point about nine miles west of Preston. Wigan is situated on a part of the Lancashire coal-fields which contains some of the richest and most valuable seams of coal to be found in Lancashire; but down to 1720 the only means of distributing this coal was by cart or packhorse. The opening of the Douglas to navigation allowed of the coal being sent by water to the estuary of the Ribble, and thence forwarded up the Ribble to Preston, or, alternatively, along the coast either to Lancaster in the one direction or to Liverpool and Chester in the other. These were tedious routes, and the voyage from the Ribble estuary along the coast was often very dangerous on account both of storms and of sand-banks. The lines of water {141}communication were, nevertheless, so much cheaper than land carriage that they were followed for about fifty years—until a safer and more expeditious waterway was provided through the opening of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.[22] Thomas Baines, from whose “History of the Town and Commerce of Liverpool” I glean these details, adds:—

“With all its defects, the Douglas navigation may be regarded as the primary cause of the manufacturing prosperity of the town of Preston, which it was the first means of supplying with cheap fuel for its workshops and factories. It may, also, be considered as one of the early causes of the commercial prosperity of Liverpool, which has always been much promoted by the possession of cheap and abundant supplies of coal and salt.”

The rendering of the Aire and Calder navigable, under an Act of Parliament passed in 1699, was an important event for the then rising manufacturing towns of Leeds, Wakefield, Halifax, Bradford and Huddersfield, situate on or within a convenient distance of one or other of these two rivers which, joining at Castleford, ten miles below 长沙桑拿洗浴论坛交流 Leeds, thence flow in a combined stream to their junction with the Yorkshire Ouse, and so on to the Humber and the ports of Hull and Grimsby. The event in question was no less interesting because it marked a further development in an industrial transition which constitutes a leading factor in the economic history of England.

The textile industries originally established in the eastern counties by refugees from the Netherlands and France afterwards spread through the southern and western counties, attaining in each district to a very considerable growth long before they were of any importance in those northern counties with which they were afterwards mainly to be associated. The migration to the north occurred at a time when the woollen industries were paramount and the cotton industries had still to attain their subsequent 长沙桑拿全套酒店 stupendous growth. It occurred, also, long before the Aire and the Calder were made navigable, so that, in this case, we cannot say the industrial centres already mentioned as being situated on or near to those two Yorkshire rivers were set up there, as the towns on the river {142}Severn had mainly been, in order to secure the convenience of river transport.