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Aire & Calder Navigation-Altofts walk

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

The White Shire Walk

Aire & Calder Navigation-Altofts walk.

The Aire and Calder Navigation is a man-made waterway system in Yorkshire, England. It was created in the 17th and 18th centuries to provide a navigable route for commercial barges and boats between the cities of Leeds and Wakefield, and the Humber estuary and the North Sea. The origins of the navigation system can be traced back to the 17th century, when a number of local landowners and merchants recognised the need for a reliable transport system to move coal, textiles, and other goods between the cities of Leeds, Wakefield, and Hull. In 1699, the Aire and Calder Navigation Company was formed to construct a navigable waterway that would connect these cities. The construction of the navigation system was a major engineering project, involving the construction of a series of locks, weirs, and aqueducts, as well as the excavation of large sections of the riverbed to deepen and straighten the channel. The first section of the navigation, from Leeds to Castleford, was completed in 1704, and by the mid-18th century, the entire system had been extended to the Humber estuary. The Aire and Calder Navigation played a vital role in the development of the local economy, enabling the transport of goods to and from the major industrial centres of Leeds and Wakefield, and providing a key link to the ports of Hull and Goole. The waterway system also supported the growth of a number of smaller settlements along its route, including Methley, Woodlesford, and Knottingley. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Aire and Calder Navigation faced competition from other forms of transport, such as the railway, and began to decline in importance. However, the waterway continued to be used for commercial traffic, and in recent years has been rejuvenated for leisure use, with the creation of new marinas and the development of a popular cycle and walking route along its banks. Today, the Aire and Calder Navigation remains an important part of Yorkshire's industrial heritage and a key feature of the local landscape.

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