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Interactions Part 1: 1826-39

The Macclesfield Canal Company - Interactions & Relationships - Part 1: 1826-39

Graham Cousins' paper, 'The Macclesfield Canal Company - Interactions & Relationships - Part 1: 1826-39' has been published by the Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society, No 214, July 2012, pp. 36-48, and we are very pleased to publish the full text in this section of the history pages.

© Copyright 2012 Graham Cousins and the Railway & Canal Historical Society.


The interactions that the Macclesfield Canal Company had with other canal companies, both locally and farther afield, were important to the development of trade on its canal.

The company had a close working relationship with the adjoining Peak Forest, to the north, on a range of matters, particularly freight rates and water supply. The Peak Forest had long wanted a link to the south to improve its trade, and the new Macclesfield Canal provided this. Both companies were keen to establish their line of canals as the direct route between the North West and London, and a shortage of water that might impede this trade was instrumental in the two companies subsequently building Todd Brook and Sutton reservoirs.

The Trent & Mersey, to the south, was a less positive neighbour - the Trent & Mersey feared loss of revenue by goods passing to and from Manchester via the Macclesfield - Peak Forest - Ashton line of canals, rather than travelling the longer distance on their own canal via Preston Brook.

The interaction between canal companies is an area that Charles Hadfield touched upon in 'Canals of the West Midlands West Midlands' 1. He refers to the actions of the Peak Forest Canal Company in seeking to influence the tonnage rates of the various canal companies on the route to London from the North West. Hadfield states that 'At the end of 1838 the Peak Forest Company, energetic and concerned, sent its agent and another on a visit to all the canal companies on the London route. They reported back on 30 January 1839...'

The other person accompanying James Meadows, the Peak Forest's agent, on this and other journeys, was Edward Hall, agent to the Macclesfield Company - both companies were equally keen to lower tonnage rates between Manchester and London. Edward Hall served as the Macclesfield's agent from 16 May 1826 to 19 September 1844, and was well respected for his day-to-day management of the company's business.

Edward Hall - Biographical Notes - to 1839

Edward Hall was born on 6 May 1793, the fifth son of David Hall and Mary Huxley, of Butley Hall, Prestbury, Macclesfield, and was educated at what is now The King's School, Macclesfield. His father, a former Captain in the Cheshire Yeomanry, had been Mayor of Macclesfield for the year 1786-7.

Hall was enlisted in the Navy as a Midshipman on HMS 'Trusty' on 6 April 1806, and subsequently saw action against France, Denmark and Norway. At the end of 1813 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In October 1818 he was appointed Aide de Camp to the Duke of Clarence - the future King William IV.

On 6 April 1822 he was given one year's leave of absence from the Admiralty and embarked on an extensive tour of Europe. During the spring of 1824 he was 'residing in London, spending my time in endeavouring to forward my interests either in the Navy or in some civil situation under Government'.

However, in April 1825, he joined his brother, Tom, in Macclesfield, to help establish his brother's silk weaving business. On 16 May 1826 Edward Hall recorded in his journal that he had accepted the situation of Agents to the Macclesfield Canal. He had just passed his 33rd birthday. On 21 September 1826 he married Miss Sarah Miles Smith at Runcorn, and their first child, named Clarence, was born on 5 September 1827. His wife subsequently gave birth to nine more children - four further boys and five girls. Two of the children died in infancy.

King George IV died on 26 June 1830 and was succeeded by his brother, the Duke of Clarence. Edward Hall attended a formal reception in London for the new King - King William IV - on 28 July. Before returning to Macclesfield he recorded in his journal  that he had called on Prince Leopold and the Duchess of Kent, mother of the future Queen Victoria.

During 1837 Hall began the construction of a new house in Macclesfield for his family (West Bank House), on land bought from the Daintry family. He recorded in his journal  that a public dinner was held at the Macclesfield Arms Hotel on 24 May 1837 on the occasion of Princess Victoria's 21st birthday. Later in 1837, 20 June, he recorded the death of King William IV.

Edward Hall was active in the public life of Macclesfield - he was a sidesman at the Parish Church, was elected to the Board of the Poor Law Guardians, was President of the Protestant Association and a member of the Conservative Association. Chartist meetings were held in Macclesfield during July and August 1839 - on these occasions Hall recorded in his journal that he was 'out with the Macclesfield Constables'.

It can be seen from his journal that Edward Hall developed a close working and personal relationship with James Meadows. For example, Edward Hall and his wife visited James and Mrs Meadows in Manchester on 13 August 1839 and attended the opera 'i Puritani' by Bellini. They returned home on 15 August - recording that 'The Potter' coach, in which they were travelling, overturned during the journey and several passengers were hurt! Early the following month Mrs Meadows and her children went to stay with the Hall family at their home in Macclesfield.

The Macclesfield Canal

The Act enabling the construction of the Macclesfield Canal received the Royal Assent on 11 April 1826. The first committee meeting of the new canal company was held on 20 May 1826, when the first call for money (of £10 per share) was made. During June and July of that year Edward Hall was involved in 'levelling and surveying the intended line of the canal along with Messrs Crosley and Taylor'. Although the line of the canal had been determined by Thomas Telford, it was William Crosley, as resident engineer, who was responsible for its actual construction. Crosley resided in Bollington until his period of engagement with the company terminated on 24 June 1833. Samuel Taylor was a land surveyor.

The construction of the Macclesfield Canal began towards the end of 1826 - the ceremony of 'turning the first sod' was performed on Monday 4 December 1826 by John R Ryle, a local businessman, at Bollington, midway between Marple and Bosley on the summit level of the canal. Amongst the other VIPs present at the event were Sir John Thomas Stanley and the Rev Edward Stanley. The Stanley's of Alderley were influential landowners in the area and were keen promoters of the canal. Sir John Thomas Stanley was the 6th Baronet of Alderley, whilst his younger brother, Edward, was Rector of St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley, from 1805 to 1837. He was then appointed Bishop of Norwich - a position he held until his death in 1849. Edward Stanley served on the committee of the Macclesfield Canal Company between the years 1826-1836, and was the chairman during, at least, the period 1833-1836.

Tonnage Rates and the encouragement of trade

At a general meeting of the company held on 20 January 1831 it was decided to examine the tonnage rates that had been authorised by the Act of Parliament, and to consider whether these rates should be reduced for the opening of the canal - to encourage trade to use the new waterway. The rates (per ton per mile) for some principal cargos, as set out in the Act, were as follows:

  • bricks, clay, coal (for burning lime), gravel, limestone, paving stones, sand - 1d
  • ashlar stone, coal (not for burning lime), flags, slate - 1½d
  • timber, lime - 2d
  • goods, wares, and other merchandise - 2d

It was agreed that the management committee should seek the views of the committees of the Trent & Mersey, Peak Forest, Ashton and other canals, and ascertain whether they would also agree to implement revised rates.

The minutes of the Peak Forest's general committee for 7 April 1831 record that John R Ryle, Richard Simpson, Henry Critchley and Thomas Itchenor Watts - members of the Macclesfield's committee - attended their meeting, seeking to reduce the tonnage rate for general goods on the canals from Macclesfield to Manchester from 2d per ton per mile to 1½d per ton per mile. The Peak Forest's committee agreed to recommend to their next annual general assembly of proprietors that such a reduction be made. In the meantime James Meadows was to allow a drawback of ½d per ton per mile on goods carried between Manchester and Macclesfield.

During June, Edward Hall travelled to Rochdale (Rochdale Canal Company), Halifax (Calder and Hebble Navigation Company) and Huddersfield (Huddersfield Canal Company) seeking reductions from those companies.

At the sixth annual general meeting of proprietors of the Macclesfield Company held on Thursday 21 July 1831 the committee reported that, since the last general meeting, they had considered the rate for tonnages fixed by the Act of Parliament and the 'propriety' of making further reductions. They felt that charges had to be reduced and a revised list of tonnage rates was read out to the meeting. The committee reported that rates charged by the Trent & Mersey were already as low as, or lower than, those proposed in the list, and confirmed that they had attended meetings with the Peak Forest, Huddersfield and Ashton companies in an attempt to induce them to make some reduction in their tonnage rates. It was stated that the Peak Forest had agreed to make reductions, but that the Ashton and Huddersfield companies had left the matter for further consideration.

The rates (per ton per mile) for principal cargos which were thus intended to be charged at the opening of the canal were given as follows: (original rates in parentheses)

  • imestone, lime ashes - ½d (originally 1d)
  • bricks, clay, coal (for burning lime), gravel, paving stones, sand - 1d (originally 1d)
  • ashlar stone, flags, slate - 1d (originally 1½d)
  • coal (not for burning lime) - 1½d for 10 miles, then to pass free (originally 1½d)
  • goods, wares and other merchandise - 1½d (originally 2d)

The committee also felt that it might be worthwhile to reduce the tonnage on salt in the event of other companies doing so, and it was agreed that the rate could be reduced to 1d per ton per mile if required.

As agent to the Macclesfield Canal Company, Hall was heavily involved in the preparations for the opening of the canal. For example, on 26 October 1831, he sent an invitation to the chairman of the Peak Forest committee requesting that they attend the opening ceremony. James Meadows replied on behalf of their committee on 5 November, accepting the invitation.

The canal was opened by two processions of boats, one from the north and one from the south, which met at the basin in Macclesfield, shortly after 2.00pm on 9 November 1831. The boats leaving from Marple (north) were supervised by Edward Hall, whilst those from Congleton (south) were supervised by William Crosley.

On 1 December 1831 a joint meeting of the Ashton and Peak Forest's sub-committees was held during which a letter from Jonathan Worthington, canal carrier of Stourport, was discussed. The letter requested a reduction of the tonnage rate on pig iron carried on the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton canals. It had lately been discovered that the Trent & Mersey was charging 1d per ton on pig iron when it passed the whole length of its canal and 1½d per ton for shorter distances. Consequently, the company was receiving as much income on iron that subsequently entered the Macclesfield Canal (via the Trent & Mersey's Hall Green Branch) as for iron that was carried the further distance to Preston Brook. James Meadows and Hugo Worthington (solicitor to the Peak Forest Company) were asked to see William Cririe (solicitor to the Macclesfield Company) and request that he raise the matter with his committee at their meeting on Friday 2 December 1831 (the next day).

At a subsequent meeting of the Peak Forest's sub-committee on 9 March 1832, Gilbert Winter, who was a committee member of both companies, reported that the Macclesfield had agreed to reduce the tonnage rate on pig iron to 1¼d per ton per mile, and he felt that the Peak Forest should do the same. It was agreed to recommend to the Peak Forest's general committee a reduction to 1¼d per ton per mile until the next annual general assembly of proprietors. Gilbert Winter also mentioned that Edward Stanley was writing to the Trent & Mersey, requesting that they charge at the same rate per ton per mile along the whole length of their canal, and not partially against the Macclesfield. He further mentioned that the Macclesfield had reduced the tonnage rate on salt to 1d per ton per mile and thought that the Peak Forest should charge similarly. James Meadows was directed to write to the agent of the Huddersfield Canal Company (J A Raistrick) to enquire whether they would also reduce the tonnage rate on salt.

At the 24 March 1832 meeting of the Peak Forest's sub-committee, James Meadows reported on a journey he had made to the West Midlands to meet with a number of iron masters in the area. Meadows had travelled to Birmingham on 15 March and then went on to Stourbridge, meeting first with Messrs Addenbrooke of Wollaston. He pointed out the advantage to them of using the new canal line to Manchester, by way of the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton canals, being some 12 miles shorter. Messrs Addenbrooke contacted their carrier (Shipton & Company of Wolverhampton) stating they expected that their iron would be carried to Manchester by the new line. James Meadows continued his journey and met with Mr James Foster of Messrs Bradley & Company, Messrs Bagnal & Sons (West Bromwich), Messrs Jones Barker & Company (Wolverhampton) and Thomas Banks (Bilston).

After James Meadows had returned home on 18 March, William Sparrow, a Wolverhampton iron master, had called to see him. Meadows commented in his report that Mr Sparrow was his own carrier, had brought several cargoes along the Peak Forest, and felt that the Peak Forest should reduce the tonnage rate to 1d per ton per mile - if they did this they would have all the trade in pig iron. Mr Sparrow suggested that the iron trade around Manchester was in a very different state to what it had been previously, as 'large quantities of Welsh and Scotch Iron now come into the Manchester Market and take the place of the Staffordshire Iron'. The quarterly meeting of iron masters was due to take place shortly, and Mr Sparrow felt that it was necessary, in his opinion, that to induce the iron trade to use the line of canals via Macclesfield a reduction in the tonnage rate should occur well before this time, and communicated to the iron masters. Mr Sparrow claimed that, as he had considerable influence in the iron trade, he would promote the use of the Macclesfield line, but the rate must be reduced to 1d per ton per mile, and said that around 25,000 tons were being carried to Manchester and 50,000 tons to Liverpool annually. He felt that it would not be wise to press the Trent & Mersey as regards tolls, because they would likely raise the tonnage rate on the whole length to 1½d; they had adopted such desperate measures before and he had reason to think they would do so again. He would not want them to do this because the Liverpool trade was more important to the iron masters than the Manchester trade. Mr Sparrow had also commented that the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal would be open in 12 months time, and that it would take all the traffic bound for Liverpool, because it was 12 miles shorter. Mr Hazledine, of Shrewsbury, who held 100 shares and was one of the principal members of the Committee, had promised the iron masters that whatever rate the Trent & Mersey charged the new company would charge the same. James Meadows continued that Mr Sparrow suggested that the canal companies should favour the iron masters who use their own boats, rather than the canal carriers - it was of no overall benefit to the iron masters to go via Preston Brook, because they could always take a back cargo of Caldon Low limestone. However, a carrier had a benefit in travelling via Preston Brook, being part-loaded for Liverpool and part for Manchester - the few tons of iron that they carried merely made up the load for them, and the Bridgewater Company gave a preference to back-loading from Preston Brook to those boats that had navigated along the Bridgewater Canal.

At the meeting the Peak Forest's sub-committee debated a reduction in the tonnage rate, but finally agreed that they had better let the recommendation to the general committee, made at their last meeting, remain as it was. However, on 12 April, the Peak Forest's general committee did agree to reduce the rate on all iron to 1¼d per ton per mile, until discussions at their next annual general assembly of proprietors.

On 17 May 1832 Charles Cholmondeley, Richard Simpson and John R Ryle, from the Macclesfield's committee, attended a committee meeting of the Peak Forest Company at the Rams Head Inn in Disley. They proposed that if the two companies reduced the tonnage rates on both iron and malt to 1d per ton the two canals could then compete against the Bridgewater Canal. The Peak Forest's committee were in agreement to a reduction of the rate on pig and bar iron to 1d per ton per mile, but no conclusion was reached as regards the rate on malt. Later that month (29 May), William Cririe wrote to the Peak Forest confirming that the Macclesfield would be reducing the tonnage rate on pig, bar and scrap iron to 1d per ton per mile. He also confirmed that a similar rate would be applied to malt passing the whole length of the canal.

The minutes of the 24 August 1832 meeting of the Peak Forest's general committee reveal that they had been considering yet a further proposal from the Macclesfield's committee - for a reduction in the rate on general merchandise passing on the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton canals, to meet a reduction already made by the Trent & Mersey. It was agreed that a further drawback of ¼d per ton per mile be made on all timber and general merchandise passing to or from the Macclesfield Canal (which had been navigated for two or more miles), and which was liable to a charge on the Peak Forest Canal of 2d per ton per mile, provided that the Ashton Canal Company made a similar reduction of ¼d per ton per mile and the Macclesfield Company reduced its tonnage from 1½d to 1d per ton per mile.

At the annual general meeting of proprietors of the Macclesfield Canal Company held the following year, on 18 July 1833, Edward Stanley, the Chairman, commented on the state of trade on the newly opened canal as follows. 

The Committee, from the outset, were of opinion that it would become necessary to make a reduction from the rate of tonnage authorised to be taken by the Act. At the General Meeting in  July of last year, this subject was brought before the Proprietors, when certain reductions were ordered to be made, and a resolution was passed "That if in the interval between the present and the next General Meeting, the Committee should be of opinion that it will be for the interest of the Proprietors that any further reduction should take place in the tonnage of the above or any other articles, they be authorised to make it, and submit the subject for consideration and final determination to the next meeting". The Committee have, since the last meeting, paid constant attention to the subject, being desirous of seeing their way very clearly, before they proceed to make any further reductions. After full consideration of the question, they have found it necessary, in order to be upon equal terms with other navigations, to make still further reductions. The following rate of tonnages was accordingly fixed upon in the month of October last:

  • limestone - ¼d
  • lime, lime ashes, and road stone - ½d
  • coal for burning lime - ½d
  • coal (not for burning lime) and coke - ¾d
  • malt - ¾d
  • goods, wares and other merchandise - 1d

One year later (5 June 1834) the Peak Forest Company felt able to report on the state of trade on their canal as follows:

The Committee feel great satisfaction in stating to the Proprietors that there is a considerable improvement in the Trade of the Peak Forest Canal, which has occasioned a corresponding increase in the receipts for tonnages. This, although partly owing to the increased trade of the Country in general, is in a very great degree to be attributed to the connection with the Macclesfield Canal and the Cromford Railway. At the time of the opening of the Macclesfield Canal in the Year 1831, the income of the Peak Forest Canal Company was £9,608, at this time it is £15,112.

17 July 1834 was the date of the annual general meeting  of proprietors of the Macclesfield Company for that year. It was reported that the total freight carried had increased from 98,201½ tons for the year ending 25 March 1833 to 125,645¾ tons for the year ending 25 March 1834, an increase of 27,444¼ tons. Receipts for the same periods were £6,116 19s 4d and £6,957 7s 5d respectively, an increase of £840 8s 1d. Profit for the company increased from £3,420 15s 2d to £5,270 2s 0¾d. It was further reported that during the quarter ending 24 June 1834 a total of 34,550½ tons had been carried, with receipts of £2,028 0s 1¼d, this being about 45 per cent more than the income for the corresponding quarter in the previous year. 

At the meeting it was announced that William Cririe, the solicitor, had resigned from his position the previous January, as he was retiring from the profession. The committee had appointed Stephen Heelis, of Slater & Heelis, to the position - his appointment was confirmed that dauy.  The committee had recently inspected the whole line of the canal; from their own observations, and the report of Charles Nicholls, the new resident engineer, they were able to state 'that the Works are in good repair'.

A special meeting of shareholders in the Macclesfield Company was called for 4 December 1834 to further consider the levels of tolls being charged. A committee meeting was held prior to the formal gathering where the resolutions to be proposed were considered. It was decided to recommend a reduction in the tonnage rate on all coal and coke carried for 20 miles or more to ½d per ton per mile.

At a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held on 22  January 1835 it was reported that letters had been received pointing out the commercial advantages of a reduction in the tonnage rate on salt. It was ordered that Edward Hall should write to the agents of the various canal companies between Macclesfield and Goole on the subject, informing them that the Macclesfield committee would recommend a reduction to a ½d per ton per mile, if the other companies did the same.

At the subsequent meeting on 11 March 1835 the Macclesfield's committee reviewed the issue of the tonnage rate on salt:

Letters in answer to those written by Mr Hall pursuant to the order of the last meeting on the subject of the tonnage on salt were read, viz: from Mr Norris, agent to the Calder & Hebble Navigation Company, stating that they had reduced the tonnage to ½d per ton per mile; from Mr Meadows that the Peak Forest Canal Company had reduced to ¾d per ton per mile; and from Mr Raistrick of the Huddersfield Canal Company stating his impression that the company would reduce to 1d per ton per mile. Under these circumstances and with the prospect of traffic being thereby very much increased it was ordered that after 25 March instant the tonnage on salt be charged only ½d per ton per mile. Ordered that Mr Hall inform the salt proprietors and agents of the canal companies of this reduction and that he also write to Sir John Ramsden requesting he will make a reduction in the tonnage of salt carried upon his canal.

The committee of the Macclesfield Canal Company was obviously pleased with the work that Edward Hall had been carrying out on its behalf, as agent, because at a meeting on 6 January 1836 it was 'Ordered that Mr Hall's salary be increased to £400 per annum from Christmas last'.

Concern over the increasing threat of railway competition

An entry in Edward Hall's journal for 27 August 1838 recorded that he travelled 'with Mr Watts to Birmingham' and that on 28 August he attended a 'meeting of Carriers and Canal Companies at Dee's Hotel'. The minutes of a Peak Forest sub-committee meeting of the same day record details of the meeting. Delegates from the following canal companies attended - Grand Junction, Oxford, Warwick & Birmingham, Coventry, Birmingham, Peak Forest and Macclesfield. Thomas Fleming and James Meadows represented the Peak Forest, whilst the Macclesfield was represented by Richard Simpson, Thomas Itchenor Watts and Edward Hall. The carriers attending the meeting included Mr Robins (Robins & Co), Messrs Crowley Hicklin, Batty & Company, Shipton & Company, Dacks & Company and Kenworthy & Company. Mr Robins commented that the (London &) Birmingham Railway would be opened shortly, leading to competition for the goods which currently pass along the canals; this would be deleterious to the interests of both the canal companies and the carriers. He felt that the canal companies should attempt to counteract this by a reduction of tonnage rates to ½d per ton per mile. He also felt that this would lead to goods, which currently went by sea, being transferred to the canals. The meeting finally agreed that when the freight charges planned by the various railway companies were known the canal companies should then consider a simultaneous reduction of tonnage.

Macclesfield's committee, held on 17 September 1838, a letter received from Mr Bouverie, chairman of the Grand Junction Canal Company, was discussed. The letter was on the subject of a reduction in tonnage rates on the canals between London and Manchester. It was decided that Edward Hall should reply stating that the committee agreed that a reduction was required. At the subsequent meeting of the Macclesfield's committee, held on 2 November 1838, Edward Hall referred to an advertisement that had appeared in the Manchester newspapers. In this advertisement the Grand Junction Railway Company announced that it was reducing its freight rates from 1 November 1838 10. Despite these difficult trading conditions Edward Hall received good news at the following December committee meeting - his salary was to be raised to £500 per year!

The Macclesfield's committee next met on 18 January 1839 when Richard Simpson reported that he had been to Stone to attend a meeting of the Trent & Mersey's select committee, and that they had made an application for a reduction in the tonnage rates on their part of the Macclesfield Canal. At this meeting of the Macclesfield's committee it was highlighted that the railway companies were now offering inducements to carriers to use the railways and leave the canals. It was added that James Meadows had been instructed by the Ashton and Peak Forest committees to meet the agents and committees of several of the Midland's canals, in order to arrange a meeting of deputations from various canal companies to discuss a general reduction in tonnage rates. It was agreed that Edward Hall should accompany him, and that Richard Simpson and Edmund Buckley be requested to attend any meetings of the various canal companies which may subsequently be held.

This 'fact-finding mission' by James Meadows and Edward Hall began immediately, Hall recording the following timetable in his journal:

Sunday 20 January

To Manchester and then with James Meadows to Wolverhampton to see Messrs Shipton and Browning, and also Mr Hayes, Agent to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Company

Monday 21 January

To Birmingham and Coventry, to see Mr Beck and Mr Henry Warner (Coventry Canal Company); then to London

Tuesday 22 January

Called on Mr Robins, the Hon Mr P Philip Bouverie (Grand Junction Canal Company) and the Bishop of Norwich

Wednesday 23 January

With Meadows to Oxford, called on Mr Lee, Mr Durell, Mr Thompson and Dr Symonds (Oxford Canal Company)

Thursday 24 January

To Coventry to see Mr Henry Warner and the Coventry Canal committee; overnight at Coventry

Friday 25 January

Met with Coventry Canal committee again

Saturday 26 January

Returned to Manchester

Monday 28 January

Meadows came over to dine

Wednesday 30 January

To Manchester to attend meeting of the Ashton and Peak Forest committees

At this meeting on 30 January 1839 James Meadows and Edward Hall reported on their travels of the previous week - it was ordered that their report be entered in the minutes of the proceedings of the committee. On 5 February Hall was again in Manchester on 'business with Meadows, Simpson, and Buckley'.

That railways were becoming a significant development for the future can be judged from the fact that Edward Hall was by then looking to the railway companies for his future employment. He had previously recorded in his journal for 25 June 1838 that he had 'sent testimony to (the) Grand Junction Railway Company'. On 8 February 1839 he recorded that he had sent his testimonial to the Directors of the London & Birmingham Railway Company. On 27 February he travelled by railway to London, where, on the following day, he attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the London & Birmingham Railway Company. However, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to join the company. He recorded in his journal that 'Mr Baxendale elected - returned home. 

At the next meeting of the Macclesfield's committee, held on 1 March 1839, Hall reported on the 'fact-finding mission' undertaken by James Meadows and himself to see the various canal companies on the line to London. He read out several letters which had been received since, by which it appeared that the Grand Junction and Oxford companies would reduce their tonnage rate (on general goods) to 1d per ton, on condition that the other canals on the line did the same, but that the Coventry had declined to lower its rate at the present. The Peak Forest had also agreed to lower its rate to 1d and the Ashton to 1¼d per ton per mile. It was agreed that the sub-committee should arrange to see the Coventry's committee as early as possible. At the meeting it was resolved that three months notice should be given by or to Edward Hall, in the event of his or the Company's wish to terminate their agreement of employment.

On 27 March Edward Hall travelled to Manchester to attend a meeting of the Peak Forest's committee. At the meeting Gilbert Winter read a report of the proceedings of the deputations from the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton companies which had recently met with the Coventry and other committees to discuss a reduction in tonnage rates. The deputations consisted of: Gilbert Winter (Ashton); Captain Hyde John Clarke RN (Peak Forest); Edmund Buckley (Macclesfield); Richard Simpson (Macclesfield) and James Meadows (agent - Ashton and Peak Forest). It is not clear whether Edward Hall took part in these meetings. The itinerary for the meetings was given as follows:

Wednesday 13 March

Left Manchester for Coventry (overnight stay)

Thursday 14 March

In Coventry to see Coventry Canal committee

Friday 15 March

In London to see Grand Junction Canal committee and Mr P Philip Bouverie

Saturday 16 March

Attended Trent & Mersey Canal committee

Sunday 17 March

Returned to Manchester

At the Macclesfield's committee meeting on 12 April 1839 the report of the deputation that had met with the canal committees was read, by which it appeared that the objective of obtaining a reduction in tonnage rates had been partially attained, and that there was every reason to believe it would be carried further.

At the next meeting of the Macclesfield's committee, held on 19 June, Edward Hall reported that the Coventry had extended the number of articles on which they would take a reduced rate of tonnage. It was ordered that, in conjunction with James Meadows, he undertake an assessment of the quantities of goods carried on the Wardle Canal or carried on the railways to and from Manchester that could utilise the Macclesfield Canal.

Hall reported on correspondence that he had had with Mr Robins, the canal carrier, on the subject of a reduction in tonnage rates, but it was agreed that it was not appropriate to adopt Mr Robins' proposals. It was agreed that a recommendation should be made to the annual general meeting of proprietors that the tonnage rate on limestone be increased to ½d per ton per mile, except in cases when it was taken as back cargo in boats that had previously carried at least 5 tons of goods for a distance of at least 9 miles on the canal on the same voyage - then the existing rate of ¼d only would be charged.

Concern about freight rates rumbled on throughout 1839. At the  July committee meeting (18 July) a request from the proprietors and occupiers of several stone quarries in Bollington and Adlington, suggesting a reduction of the tonnage rate on stone, was read and considered, but it was decided that the request could not be acceded to. At the same meeting a request from certain carriers asking for a reduction in the tonnage rate on light goods was also read, but this was left for consideration at a future date.

On 30 September 1839 the Peak Forest's committee announced a very detailed resolution concerning freight rates:

That a drawback of 4½d per ton, reducing whole tonnage to 4d per ton, be allowed on all stone brought from Runcorn along the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal or the Mersey & Irwell Navigation, and navigated along the Ashton Canal and the Peak Forest Canal and the Macclesfield Canal to Congleton, provided the party claiming the drawback shall first navigate at least 5,000 tons.

The reason for the resolution is not known - it may have been connected with projected railway schemes in the district.

On 27 November 1839 Edward Hall travelled to Manchester and back, to attend a meeting of sub-committees of the Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield companies. At a subsequent meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held on 20 December he reported that the sub-committees had met in Manchester to discuss an application from the carrying firm of Crowley & Company for a general reduction in tonnage rates, but that it had been felt that such a reduction could not be made at that time - the firm of Crowley, Hicklin, Batty & Company traded to Birmingham and Wolverhampton from Macclesfield Wharf.

Table 1

Macclesfield Canal - tonnage rates per ton per mile

 Ashlar stone  1½d  1d            
 Bricks  1d  1d            
 Clay  1d  1d            
 Coal - for burning lime  1d  1d        ½d  ½d  
 Coal - not for burning lime  1½d  1½d        ¾d  ½d  
 Flags  1½d  1d            
 Goods, wares, and all other
 2d  1½d      1d  1d    
 Gravel  1d  1d            
 Iron  2d    1¼d  1d        
 Lime  2d  1d        ½d    
 Limestone  1d  ½d        ¼d    
 Malt        1d    ¾d    
 Manure    1d            
 Marl    1d            
 Other minerals  1½d              
 Paving stones  1d  1d            
 Pig and bar iron  2d    1¼d  1d        
 Rubble stone for roads  1d          ½d    
 Salt  1½d  1d  1d          ½d
 Sand  1d  1d            
 Slate  1½d  1d            
 Spar  1½d              
 Timber  2d        1d  1d    

Principal local cargos were coal from the Poynton coalfields on the Macclesfield Canal and limestone and lime products from the Bugsworth complex on the Peak Forest Canal.

Water Supply

Summer 1834 - Water shortages on the Peak Forest Canal and the decision to build Todd Brook reservoir

The chairman's report to the annual general assembly of proprietors of the Peak Forest Canal Company in June 1834 contained the following statement:

The reasonable expectation of a progressive increase in the Trade upon the Canal has led the Committee to consider their imperative Duty to look forward to the obtaining (of) a greater supply of Water; they have therefore caused Surveys and Sections to be taken of the Sites for the Reservoirs at the Wash (Hockham Brook) near Chapel-en-le-Frith and on the Todd Brook near Whaley Bridge under the direction of Thomas Brown, who originally set them out at the time of the Application to Parliament for the Act for making the Canal.

Earlier in the year, Thomas Brown, with James Meadows and the land agent Samuel Taylor, had begun the surveying work. 

At a meeting of the Peak Forest's sub-committee on 2 July 1834 Thomas Brown and Gilbert Winter were requested to enquire of the Macclesfield's committee, at their next meeting, whether they would assist the Peak Forest with water, as the existing Combs reservoir was getting very low. At a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held during the morning of their annual general meeting of proprietors (17 July 1834), Edward Hall reported that if the current spell of dry weather continued much longer the Peak Forest Canal would be short of water. Consequently trade on the Macclesfield Canal would be materially affected. It was therefore ordered:

That Mr Hall be authorised to accommodate the Peak Forest Canal Company with water as far as may be necessary until the Bosley Reservoir is drawn down two thirds and that he then call the attention of the sub-committee to the business and act according to their directions.

At the general assembly of proprietors of the Peak Forest Company held the following year (Thursday 4 June 1835) at the Royal Hotel in Manchester concerns were still being expressed about water supply:

... The extraordinary dry season of the past year occasioned considerable difficulty in supplying the Canal with Water; if it had not been for the assistance offered by the Macclesfield Canal Company, the navigation of the Canal would have been suspended for some time, as the (Combs) Reservoir had been drawn lower than was ever known in the driest season. The necessity therefore of taking effectual means for obtaining an additional supply of Water became more than ever apparent...

The Peak Forest's general committee met a few days later (8 June) and they agreed that William Crosley should be consulted 'as to the situation and mode of constructing the bank of the reservoir' - this was to be the new Todd Brook reservoir. James Meadows was directed to apply to William Crosley 'to have him attend to this business as early as possible' 13.

At a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held on 9 September 1835 Edward Hall reported that, for some time, the Peak Forest had been assisted with water from Bosley reservoir. The committee agreed that this would be continued for as long as possible.

The Peak Forest's general committee met in December 1835 to review the plans and specifications prepared by John Wood (their engineer) for the bank of the intended reservoir on Todd Brook. Thomas Brown felt that the plans should 'be laid before some eminent Engineer to report upon them'. The first engineer named to examine the plans was William Crosley. Crosley did not undertake this work - at the 26 February 1836 meeting of the Peak Forest's sub-committee two reports relating to the reservoir prepared by Nicholas Brown of Wakefield were read to the meeting. 

Summer 1836 - Water shortages continue - the decision to build Sutton reservoir

At a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee on 29 June 1836 a request from James Meadows was read out. He wanted the Macclesfield Company to allow the stop gate at Marple to be left open, for the better supply of water to the Peak Forest Canal. Edward Hall reported that Bosley reservoir was then as low as it was at a point last year seven weeks later in the year. He had doubts, given increasing trade and no likelihood of rain, whether the supply of water would be adequate for the Macclesfield's own needs. It was therefore resolved that James Meadows be informed that the gate could not be left open.

The supply of water was obviously of increasing concern to both the Macclesfield and Peak Forest companies as the year progressed. The annual survey of the Macclesfield Canal, undertaken by the managing committee, took place over the two days of 13-14 July 1836, and at a committee meeting held on 13 July it was minuted:

It appearing necessary for the purpose of accommodating the trade that the Peak Forest Canal Company should be assisted with water from the Macclesfield Canal and that without such assistance the Peak Forest Canal could not be kept up to the proper height. It was duly resolved "That this being a case of necessity and materially effecting the interests of the Macclesfield Canal the requisite assistance be given as long as practicable and that Mr Hall to report the state of the reservoir to the sub-committee from time to time".

The following day it was agreed that, as trade was increasing and as the company was wholly dependent upon Bosley reservoir for its supply of water, it was expedient that Sutton reservoir should be built, and that this be recommended to the annual general meeting of proprietors. The site at Sutton was one of five sites proposed in the authorised plans for reservoirs but only the reservoir at Bosley had been built. It was ordered that Edward Hall should write to William Crosley and Thomas Brown to establish whether any estimate for the construction of a reservoir at Sutton had ever been made, and if so to request a copy. It was also ordered that Charles Nicholls should produce a new estimate and that Edward Hall should write to Samuel Taylor requesting that all plans, drafts and documents belonging to the company should be lodged in the canal office at Macclesfield.

The Peak Forest Canal Company placed an advertisement in the Derby Mercury, dated Wednesday 27 July 1836, for contractors to tender for the 'Formation of an Embankment, and the Mason-work belonging to the same, at the Todd's Brook Reservoir, near Whaley Bridge'. Plans and specifications would be available for inspection at the company's office in Manchester on Tuesday 26 July and would remain available until 9 August. The advertisement continued that the company's engineer would be in attendance at the reservoir between 4-6 August to provide any required information. Sealed tenders were to be sent to James Meadows at the company's office before 11 August 15. The Peak Forest's sub-committee subsequently met on 2 September 1836, when it was agreed that the contract for constructing the embankment of Todd Brook reservoir was to be let to William Collinge and that a Mr Walker would be responsible for the masonry.

On 7 September Edward Hall examined the site of the intended Sutton reservoir with Thomas Brown. The next day a committee meeting was held at which the plan and sections of the proposed reservoir were produced. Charles Nicholls was instructed to produce a specification and working plans and to submit them to Thomas Brown, upon whose approval an advertisement requesting tenders would be placed in the newspapers as early as possible. At the same meeting Edward Hall reported that the Rudyard and Knypersley reservoirs belonging to the Trent & Mersey were nearly dry, and that boats were passing up empty from the Trent & Mersey and then taking back limestone which only paid a tonnage rate of ¼d per ton per mile, or about 10s per boat for the whole length of the Macclesfield Canal. The matter was debated, as was the state of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest reservoirs, but it was decided not to apply any restrictions at that time.

The water supply situation was obviously getting worse for everyone as September progressed. This is illustrated by the following letters written by Hall to the Peak Forest Canal Company:

16 September 1836,
Dear Sir,
Don't stop your canal so long as you have a drop of water in the Reservoir - drain it to the last drop and trust the best we can to help. I am sorry to say our Reservoir is rapidly descending - nearly 21 feet down, three or four weeks I fear will see it out now that we must entirely supply yours. The Trent & Mersey were badly off a few days ago, but the report today is that they have collected some water and that the boats no longer wait turns, I do hope we shall float as long as they do.
In haste yours truly,
Edward Hall

22 September 1836,
Dear Sir,
Having laid your Letter of the 20th inst relative to the state of the Peak Forest (Combs) Reservoir before the sub-committee of the Macclesfield Canal; They have taken the matters you mention into consideration connected with the state of our own Reservoir at Bosley, and they have now directed me to say that unless something can be done towards a reduction in the expenditure of water it seems at present almost impossible that both the canals could be kept open more than a fortnight longer even supposing the Bosley Reservoir to be drained to the bottom.

Under these circumstances they request the Peak Forest Canal Committee will be good enough to take into their immediate consideration the propriety of stopping their Limestone Trade for a short period until water becomes more plentiful, a measure which it is thought would have the effect of spinning out our present reserve of water at least a week longer, and though it may be difficult to get through the preliminary steps for such a measure as a Canal Company in time to be of any avail, it is thought you could do it in your capacity of traders by refusing to supply the stone. Unless this or some other steps as effectual can be adopted, the sub-committee fear they cannot continue to supply the Peak Forest many days longer, as some water must be kept in reserve for our own local trade in coals.
In haste to save post,
I remain Dear Sir,
Yours very truly,
Edward Hall

The subject was taken into consideration by the Peak Forest's committee and it was agreed that all boats carrying limestone and gritstone should be barred from going down the locks; James Meadows was directed to write to Edward Hall to that effect. Hall replied on 26 September 1836:

I am obliged by your letters. Many boats that bring cargoes of iron and Mr Kinnersley with coal pass through Manchester, and it would seem rather hard to refuse them limestone as back-carriage particularly as full boats take less water than empty ones. But many others such as Mr Clives, Sutton & Co etc come up quite empty simply for the limestone or the water and these it is desirable to stop if we can, but I admit the distinction is not easy to carry through. With respect to your idea of our charging for the empty boats, I think it a very good one, but having foreseen all that occurred and imagined even worse I brought the subject most fully under the consideration of the Committee at our last meeting when it was decided not to make any, even a temporary, charge in the subject.

To say the truth, our Act is somewhat deficient in that part. Under the circumstances my only dependence is on what you can do as the sellers of the stone. The want of water is a most unfortunate circumstance just now on many accounts and I see little hope of any immediate supply. This time last year our Reservoir began to use again but the year before it continued to fall even till January.

On Saturday I sent to Rudyard and Knypersley Reservoirs, the one had 2½ feet in and the other 3½ feet, this is little or nothing, but our own water helps them to outlast us. If Mr Nicholls can finish in time some matters relative to the Sutton Reservoir, I shall most likely come over to Manchester on Wednesday to see Mr Thomas Brown and will then see you also. Unfortunately I am suffering from a painful swelled face but it has not yet laid me up and I hope it will not. If I don't come Mr Nicholls must - but I want to see you about a new iron crane for High Lane. I am told you have lately put up a good one.
Yours ever truly,
Edward Hall

At the committee meeting of 6 October 1836 Edward Hall reported that the water in Bosley reservoir had risen 6 feet 2 inches, and that there was consequently a supply of water for at least 6 weeks. He also confirmed that the Peak Forest's Combs reservoir 'had risen to a great extent'. It was ordered that measurements showing the depth of the water running over the Rossendale gauge into the proposed Sutton reservoir be taken at each flood to ascertain the probable supply. The plans and specifications for the Sutton reservoir were produced by Edward Hall and it was ordered that he could advertise for tenders.

At the November committee meeting (17 November) Edward Hall was able to report that Bosley reservoir was two thirds full, being 36 feet deep and only 6 feet below top water level. Measurement of the depth of water running over the Rossendale gauge in time of flood had been taken - this would be continued and reference tables drawn up. Six tenders for the construction of Sutton reservoir were considered, together with Mr Nicholls' estimates, the latter amounting to £4,753. A tender submitted by Mr Thomas Buckley for £4,394 was the lowest. It was ordered that enquiries be made of Mr Trubshaw and the agents to the Trent & Mersey Canal Company regarding Thomas Buckley's ability, because he had constructed a reservoir for that company.

At a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held on 7 December 1836 Edward Hall was able to report that Bosley reservoir was overflowing. The testimonials in favour of Thomas Buckley were considered and appeared highly satisfactory, as were his sureties. He was then called in to the meeting and informed that his tender for Sutton reservoir was accepted, subject to some alterations in respect to stone and a waste weir. It was then ordered that a proper contract and bond be drawn up.

1837 - Problems with the construction of Todd Brook reservoir

On 19 January 1837 the Peak Forest's sub-committee met to discuss a report made by John Wood on the difficult progress being made in the construction of the embankment at Todd Brook reservoir. James Meadows was directed to contact Thomas Brown about the problem - but if Thomas Brown did not wish to give an opinion then another engineer should be approached. On 21 February the sub-committee discussed a report made by William Mackenzie about the embankment. After consideration of the report it was agreed that it was necessary to site the embankment lower down the valley. 

A meeting of the Peak Forest's committee was held at the Royal Hotel in Manchester on 23 May 1837, where a further report from William Mackenzie dated 3 May was considered. It was resolved that the plans should be referred to both Thomas Brown and William Mackenzie for further consideration and that they be requested to meet 'on the ground' if necessary. At a meeting on 26 June it was agreed to proceed with the work at Todd Brook reservoir according to the scheme recommended by William Mackenzie in his two reports of the 3 May and 24 June. James Meadows was instructed 'to Contract the Works upon the most advantageous terms that can be arranged'.

Water supply continued to be a topic of great importance - at a meeting of the Macclesfield's committee held on 5 July 1837 Edward Hall reported that, since the supply pipe of the Peak Forest's Combs reservoir was not of sufficient bore to pass enough water to support the trade on that canal, he had ordered the stop gate at Marple to be set open during the day in order to assist the Peak Forest Canal and prevent interruption to trade, Bosley reservoir being only 2 feet 8 inches below top water level at that time.

During the annual survey of the Macclesfield Canal held the following year (21 June 1838), the committee viewed the newly completed Sutton reservoir, and the culvert under the road and canal for passing waste water from the reservoir. Edward Hall reported that the new reservoir had already been useful in helping to refill the canal after the recent general stoppage. At a subsequent committee meeting, held on 17 October 1838, it was confirmed that Thomas Buckley had completed his Sutton reservoir contract and Thomas Brown was requested to inspect and sign off the work.

The period between 1840 and 1850, relating to both the Macclesfield Canal Company and Edward Hall, will be covered in Part 2 of this article.