Building Britain's Canals

Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Series 1 - Episode 2 Leeds and Liverpool Canal



Dan Jones tells a terrific story here, combining history and geography in the kind of programme that leaves you feeling you know your own country slightly better. In theory, his subject this week is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, but in practice, it works as a rather good potted history of the Industrial Revolution and the feats of engineering that helped it along.

In one of the best scenes we see the workshop that for two centuries has built lock gates out of massive hunks of oak – a glorious sight. Jones is good on the golden age of Lancashire cotton mills, too, and how they dominated the northern economy, employing 440,000 people and weaving a scarcely believable eight billion yards of cotton cloth each year.


Writer and historian Dan Jones navigates Britain's longest canal to be built by just one company, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Built to link the economically booming counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, this 19th-century superhighway was experimental for the time, and made Liverpool the busiest port in the world. In Burnley, the cotton capital of the 19th century, Dan visits the world's only steam-powered cotton mill, where enough cloth was woven each year to reach to the moon and back two-and-a-half times.

Cast & Crew

Actor Dan Jones
Director Steve Bonser
Executive Producer Jeff Anderson
Producer Steve Bonser
Series Producer Graham Cooper
Documentary Science