Littleborough’s History

Building the Rochdale Canal

On 17th June 1794 Jessop submitted a report with detailed proposal for building canal with innovative ideas including standardised 10 ft rise locks to minimise waste water and the abandonment of the 9,800 ft long Summit Tunnel. The new ¾ mile long Summit Pound would be in a 30 ft deep cutting (actually 40 ft) and the depth of water 2 ft deeper to help maintain navigation. His proposal for 2 lock gates at the lower end was not adopted though certain locks still demonstrate the proposal. Details included reservoirs at Hollingworth and Blackstone Edge.

Construction of canal, reservoirs incl Hollingworth Lake commenced in 1794 sometimes using local contractors see Job Cogswell but work was not always without problems including damage to local farms. In September 1795 two agreements were made regarding the sale of land from the Bent House Estate to the Rochdale Canal Company and in 1796/97 a report to proprietors indicated the canal would "probably be completed in 18 months". However in 1797 construction of Hollingworth was suspended due to leakage into an old mine conduit which ran under the new reservoir. The conduit was filled in and replaced by Shawmoss Coal Tunnel (approved January 1802) which took the water initially to 'Winning Flash' and later to Clegg Hall Mills. On 4th May another report to proprietors indicated "two thirds of (construction) work done". On 24th August 1798 the Rochdale Canal opened between Sowerby Bridge & Todmorden and on 21st December the Canal opened throughout between Rochdale and Sowerby Bridge and by 1799 the canal was opened to Manchester. In 1800, John Entwistle of Clegg Hall & Foxholes (who also built his own roads around Clegg Hall) became treasurer to Rochdale Canal Co. Finally, on 21st December 1804 the Rochdale Canal opened throughout at a cost in the order of Cost of £500,000.


The Rochdale Canal Company required extensive water storage as demonstrated during July & August 1800 when the canal was at a standstill due to drought. It built an extensive reservoir network.

The principle dates etc for Hollingworth Lake were:-

Blackstone Edge & Chelburn Reservoirs


Canal Feeder drain from Hollingworth Lake to Summit Pound

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Canal in Littleborough