Transporting coal

(c) Wigan Archives Service

At the start of the 18th century road surfaces in the area were poor, making it difficult to transport heavy loads of coal and limiting the industry’s growth. It was therefore agreed to canalise part of the River Douglas in 1720, in order to make the transportation of coal more efficient and cheaper. When this was no longer sufficient, it was agreed to create a canal from Yorkshire to Liverpool to assist with the transportation of goods from Yorkshire and Lancashire to the Port of Liverpool and vice versa. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was agreed in 1770 and it reached Wigan by 1781. The canal allowed coal to be easily transported out of the area and allowed raw cotton to be easily transported from the Port of Liverpool to the textile factories that had located themselves near the supply of coal in the area.

If we wanted to get to the flash, because the canals were still being used an awful lot, especially by coal, we used to hitch a lift on the barges.” Jack