Littleborough’s History

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Building the Rochdale Canal

Littleborough Canal in Littleborough

Job Cogswell - Boatmaster

History Trail No 13 - Canal Walk

Job Cogswell - Boatmaster and Entrepreneur


On the 8th May 1800, Job was paid £30. 2s. 4d - for a “Boatload” of Lime.  From then, Job’s Canal Carrying business expanded.  The Leeds Intellegencer newspaper dated the 5th April 1802 carried an advertisement informing that he is now able to offer a regular conveyance of goods along the Rochdale Canal.

Another advertisement in the 7th September 1802 edition of the Leeds Intellegencer newspaper lists Job’s charges for carrying goods between certain towns along the Rochdale Canal, ranging from 10/- per ton up to 21/- per ton.

The 16th March 1807 edition of the Leeds Intellegencer carried an advertisement for Job informing customers and potential customers that he has now established a warehouse at the No.1 Graving Dock, Liverpool and is able to offer to transport goods from Sowerby Bridge New Wharfe (sic) all the way to Liverpool.   By increasing the number of boats on the service, he is now able to offer at least one boat per day service.

Job also wished to acquaint people to the fact that he has “formed a connection” with Mr. Abraham Thornton, Carrier and in so doing can offer a service every other day – Mondays, Wednesday & Fridays, from the Red Lion Inn to Meadow Lane, Leeds and on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays between Leeds and the Old Cock Yard, Halifax. The advertisement went on to say that they had experienced problems getting this service up and running, but expected those to have been overcome. It mentions the “Department by Land”, but the problems may have been due to other carriers? The Yorkshire and Lancashire canal carrying trade could have been carved up between numbers of interested parties. Viz.

Mr. Abraham Thornton - Red Lion Inn & Meadow Lane, Leeds

Mr. John Powell -  Halifax

Mr. John Shuttleworth - Sowerby New Wharf

Mr. Isaac Mann - Rochdale Wharf

Messrs. Job Cogswell & Co. - Piccadilly Wharf, Manchester

Mr. Joseph Harrison - No.1 Graving Dock, Liverpool

The 8th November 1808 edition of the Leeds Intellegencer carried a joint advertisement for Job Cogswell & Edward Thornton, informing customers and potential customers that they are now able to provide a direct service between Hull and Liverpool, being the first carriers to offer that service. Another such advertisement appeared in the Manchester Mercury.

Job had built a Graving Dock at Durn which was in existence by 1817. It is possible that the Cogswell enterprise was a large as Pickford’s at this time as it was referred to by the Rochdale Canal Company’s records dated the 14th March 1817 regarding payments for water taken out of their Canal to fill Pickford’s own graving dock.  The letter states that “Mr. Cogswell regularly pays the same money for every dock-full of water he takes from the Canal”. However whilst  the Rochdale Canal Company state that Job Cogswell had now extended the voyages of his vessels along the Calder & Hebble Navigation to Wakefield other correspondence referred to the tardiness of Cogswell in paying his bills or accounts. One of the Canal Company’s letters also states that Job Cogswell was owed £19. 17s. 4d by Mr. Cheetham for the repair of Mr. Cheetham’s boat. This confirms that he was repairing other people’s boats as well as his own. In a letter dated the 5th January 1818, the Rochdale Canal Company  agreed to let Job have more warehousing in Manchester, indicative that his debts had been paid.

Records show how even boat masters were not immune  from damaging lock gates :

 14th August 1817  – Robert Nuttall  - Cost of repair £22. 6s. 9d

 January 1818 -  Henry Poole - Anthony Lock Cost of repair £15

 February 1818 - Thomas Chapman – (Jack Head at Anthony Lock) Cost  14/6d

 July 1818 - John Tattersfield (Coney Green lock head) Cost 3/6d

An 1818 Directory 1818 Job Cogswell as a Boat Master. Six years later he was a noted ‘Carrier by water’ based in Littleborough. It is not known when Job bought his first canal boat.   Originally they were cargo boats but moved into running a “Fly” boat service, fast narrow boats. Job Cogswell registered his boat called “The Four Sisters on 9th May 1822”.  Job is listed as the Owner with John Holroyd recorded as the Master. By 1824, Job had gone into business with a Mr. Thornton as the business is now referred to as Cogswell & Thornton & Co.   The partnership was not to last being dissolved on the 1st February 1825. Circa 1925 Job’s son, Robert Cogswell was probably the driving force in the Company as Job was now aged 63.

2 years later on 10th May 1827 Job made his Will. Included within it was that his wife Elizabeth was to receive the rents of the 6 messuages (cottages) at Littleborough which were down Durn Street which led to his graving dock then along a ginnel at the rear of the houses on the Halifax Road.  The 6 cottages backed onto Job’s graving dock. The plan (below right) shows Job Cogswell’s Graving Dock branching off from the Canal (right of centre).  Next to the Graving Dock are Job’s six terraced cottages that were situated behind the row of cottages fronting the Halifax Road – only the front walls of those cottages now remain. The doorways and front window openings can still be seen in the wall there, the whole ginnel having now been turned into a communal garden. Job’s six cottages would have run parallel to the cottages shown here (bottom right) fronting the Halifax Road. Note the replaced Canal edge stones where Job’s Graving Dock entered the Canal

Job died on the 4th February 1829 in Rochdale aged: 68 and was buried in the Holy Trinity Churchyard, Littleborough on the 8th. Elizabeth died and was buried with Job at Littleborough on the 4th October 1844 aged: 78. Job’s name continued after his death as an advertisement in the Chester Chronicle dated the 5th August 1831 showed.  It also detailed the Company’s use of the Northwich Wharf situated in the north-west end of the King’s Dock, Liverpool.

Thanks to George Cogswell for his detailed researches on Job

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