NAME: The Duke of Bridge-water.
CLAIM TO FAME: Builder of the Bridgewater Canal, Britain's first artificial industrial waterway.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY: Inspired by a visit to France's Canal du Midi, the Duke of Bridgewater planned his canal to carry coal from his mines at Worsley the few miles to Manchester, which was suffering a shortage of fuel.
Aided by his land agent John Gilbert and the talented engineer James Brindley, he carried his "cut" over the River Irwell on an aqueduct, then branched out east and west. The eastern section went to Manchester, immediately halving the cost of coal to 6d a cwt when it opened in 1761.The western arm was carried to Runcorn.
There it locked down to join the tidal River Mersey, giving Manchester access to the seaport of Liverpool.
This section, opened in 1772, prove invaluable in the years that followed, providing an outlet for the city's cotton exports and a direct, cheap route for imported raw materials.
Just as important, in the long run, was the connection it would make at Preston Brook with the Trent and Mersey Canal and thus with the rest of the country's growing canal system.
At Worsley, the canal was carried directly into the mines, draining the ex-cavations, giving an end-less supply of water for the canal and providing an easy method of carrying the coal direct from coalface to customer.
It was the start of a network of underground canals which eventually stretched for 52 miles on four different levels.
The two main levels were connected by an inclined plane carrying fully-laden "Starvationer" barges to the exit level. This device may have been designed by Robert Fulton, the American steamboat pioneer.
The canal was undoubtedly a fine engineering achievement but it was built at a crippling cost to the Duke. It was only after his death in 1803 that it finally came into profit.