James Brindley (1716 to 27th September 1772)

 

Nearly everything our eyes fall upon has been designed by someone. Whenever I see an object I wonder who invented it. Whenever I switch a light on I wonder who designed the switch, the wires behind it, the power station and the pylons that carry the electricity. Sometimes I jog alongside the canal (sometimes in darkness guided by moon-glow reflecting on the water) and once I asked myself who was behind canals. I looked it up and inventor James Brindle was responsible for 360 miles of canals and he helped to hasten the Industrial Revolution. Here I am above his bones.

He was born in Staffordshire - a county he never really left and where he's buried forever. He was always inventive and aged 36 built an engine for draining flooded coal pits at Clifton in Lancashire. Aged 42 he built a 10-mile canal in Manchester to help transport goods over the River Irwell. The city was undergoing a revolution and the canal with its lock system was so innovating he went onto build a network of canals across the country.

 

He died quite young - just 56 years young. Heíd been surveying the new branch of a canal in Staffordshire, got drenched in a severe rainstorm and returned to the inn where he was lodging. He was used to getting wet but this time he seemed unable to dry out properly or get himself warm. He caught a chill and became seriously ill - so ill he returned to his home at Turnhurst and died (a doctor found he was suffering from diabetes.)

 

He was buried here where Iím stood just a few feet from the church door. Over him lies a stone listing his achievements but the grave must have been running to ruin at some point as was restored by public donations. Iím not sure how many visitors this grave gets but thereís a sign on the church wall pointing to the grave. Being a dopey daydreamer Iím surprised I didnít walk passed it and waste 30 minutes in the rear churchyard looking for him. He looks to be buried alone. When he was 49 James married Anne Henshall (who was 30 years younger - unknown at the time) and they went on to have two daughters. Later she remarried.

 

I did a salute though I probably couldnít appreciate his achievements as Iím used to roads and motorways. In James's era the country didnít have proper roads and goods were transported across the country by horses. With the advent of canals many industries specifically build their mills by the canal network. This chap was an important part of that. Good on him. I did a second salute.

 

 

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Portland Basin, Ashton Under Lyne...now and then...

Canal - old photo 1.jpg

 

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