and Mersey canal at Longport. Copyright: The
Potteries Museum & Art Gallery 2002.
Canals were a
vital method of transport in the late 18th
century before the introduction of the railways.
The history of the two canals in the Potteries
area, the Trent and Mersey and Cauldon canals,
is briefly discussed below.
Proposals for the Trent and Mersey canal were
first made in 1759 by Lord Gower, the
brother-in-law of the Duke of Bridgewater. In
the latter part of the eighteenth century Josiah Wedgwood began to
look into the possibility of the proposed canal
running past his pottery works in Etruria. The advantages of
a canal were clear: white ball clay from Devon and
Dorset could be brought in more easily and
goods could be shipped out with fewer breakages:
at the time products were dispatched from all
the local potters by packhorse and a large
amount was broken in transit. A canal link would
help to prevent these breakages and would reduce