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Act of Parliament 1793. Cost £95,000
Calder to Barnsley Barugh to Barnby Basin
Work started (at Heath)
Work started
late 1798
early 1802
14 1/2 miles (approx 23 km)
1 1/2 miles (approx 2.4 km)
No. of Locks (to summit near Walton Hall Bridge)
No. of Locks (Barugh to Barnby Basin)
Lock falls (Heath to Walton)
7 1/2 ft (approx 225 cm)
Lock falls
(Barugh to Barnby Basin)
8 ft (approx 240 cm)
Lock Dimensions (to accommodate boats)
58 ft long (approx 17.5 m) by 14 feet 10 inches (approx 4.5 m) wide
Work started
late 1798
Locks enlarged 1879 - 1881 79 ft length (approx 24m) Completed
early 1802
Canal depth
5 feet (approx 150 cm)
Section closed (by Act of Parliament)
Canal depth increased by raising banks (1836) 7 feet (approx 230 cm)    
Bridges - height increased
c1828 - 1830
Type of boat
Billy Boys, Coasters
Water sources
Wintersett Reservoir (1793). Pumping station at Ryhill built 1803, actually on the Haw Park Wood side at the eastern end of Cold Hiendley Reservoir (remains still visible).
Cold Hiendley Reservoir (1854). Both reservoirs enlarged in 1874 by 55 acres
Junction with Dearne & Dove Canal completed 12/11/1804 Toll Revenue Peak: (1817) £16,687, of which £13,688 from the canal and £2,999 from coal tramroads - Silkstone/Barnby Basin
Transferred to Aire & Calder
01/12/1854 (leased), 17/08/1871 (finally transferred)
Trade coal and corn
Provisional abandonment warrant May 1947 Last boat passed Royston Bridge 07/12/1950
Last boat used Heath Lock 10/06/1952 Final abandonment warrant 1953
Principal source for table: "The Barnsley Canal - A Forgotten Waterway" - see Links for details.

See also Closing the Barnsley Canal, by L.J. Boughey, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, Vo. XXIX Pt. 5, No. 139, July 1988.


■ Distance Table of the Aire & Calder Navigation, Barnsley Canal (No. 3b), as described in Bradshaw's Canals and Navigable Rivers of England and Wales, Henry Rodolph de Salis, published by Henry Blacklock & Co. Ltd., London & Manchester, 1901. (PDF)



  • Barge The general name for wide beam boats used for inland commercial carrying. Although the narrowboats are often refered to as 'barges' they are more correctly called narrowboats.
  • Working narrowboat - general term applied to a range of boats used on the narrow canals and limited by the gauge of the locks and other structures to dimensions of about 70 feet (approx. 21 metres) by 7 feet beam (approx 2.1m). They travelled to nearly all parts of the inland waterways, on both canals and rivers.
  • The Yorkshire or Humber keel was a flat-bottomed, double-ended sailing barge - a direct descent from the long ships of the Vikings. They had the reputation of sailing close to the wind and were easy to handle, sometimes in the charge of a single man, although often operated as family boats. The last sailing keel was in service until 1949.
    The older type of keel was distinguished by its carved and painted decorations in the form of grapevines, and by a tall wooden stovepipe above a cabin at the fore end. It had a single mast, a little forward of midships, usually carriing a square sail, often with an additional topsail.
    Of carvel build (i.e. with planks flush, not overlapping), it had leeboards (a plank frame fixed to the side of a flat-bottomed vessel and let down into the water to diminish leeway) on either side and strong, bluff bows (i.e. having a vertical or steep broad front).
    The mast was mounted in a deep tabernacle - a socket or double post for a hinged mast that can be lowered for passing under low bridges.
    The area of the hull below the waterline was usually dressed with tar, while the upper works were painted in light colours and frequently varnished. It measured 58 feet (approx 17.5 m) long and was 14 feet 6 inches (approx 4.5 m) in the beam and 6 feet to 6 feet 9 inches (approx 215 cm) in draught, some have been recorded with up to 8 feet of draught.
    It had a capacity between 90 and 100 tons. (1 ton = 1016.05 kg, a metric ton or tonne = 1000 kg).
  • Tom Puddings were rectangular, almost square, steel compartment boats used on the Aire and Calder Navigations. They were hauled in trains by power-boats, originally steam tugs but later diesels, rounded at bow and stern. The system was invented by William H. Bartholomew, then engineer to the Aire and Calder company. First operated for the bulk transport of coal in 1865.
    The dimensions of each boat were 20 feet (approx 6m) long, 16 feet (approx 4.8 m) beam, loading 35 tons to a draught of 6 feet. These were too broad of beam for the Barnsley Canal but were used by the the Aire & Calder, the eventual owners of the canal.
  • Bargee - a crewman or owner-skipper of a barge.
Click to enlarge


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