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Bridge 52, Calder Aqueduct and weir, Lancaster Canal

A Grade II Listed Building in Catterall, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8843 / 53°53'3"N

Longitude: -2.7517 / 2°45'6"W

OS Eastings: 350687

OS Northings: 443384

OS Grid: SD506433

Mapcode National: GBR 9R7J.2B

Mapcode Global: WH850.PMWL

Entry Name: Bridge 52, Calder Aqueduct and weir, Lancaster Canal

Listing Date: 20 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1423290

Location: Catterall, Wyre, Lancashire, PR3

County: Lancashire

District: Wyre

Civil Parish: Catterall

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Garstang St Helen, Churchtown

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

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An aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal and an associated weir on the River Calder built in 1797 to a design by the engineer John Rennie.


An aqueduct carrying the Lancaster Canal over the River Calder together with a weir on the river. It was built at the time of the canal's opening in 1797 by the engineer John Rennie and is constructed of sandstone with later alterations in concrete.

The aqueduct carries the canal and towpath over the river and is built of rock-faced sandstone below the parapets. Both the upstream and downstream faces of the aqueduct are curved in plan to strengthen the structure. The aqueduct's western parapet is built of large sandstone blocks stood on edge two courses high. The eastern parapet, which is set back about 5m from the edge of the canal, is built of coursed dressed sandstone and sweeps around upstream either side of the river. Both arms of the eastern parapet have been partly rebuilt in concrete. Also on the upstream side of the aqueduct there is a weir which is built contiguously with the aqueduct. It consists of large sandstone blocks, carved to a round profile along the crest of the weir and is approximately 1.5m high. It was constructed to lower the bed of the river under the canal. The river runs beneath the canal through a single elliptical arch.


Initially envisaged as a route from the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley through to Kendal, Cumbria, for the transportation of coal north from the Lancashire coalfields and limestone south from Cumbria, part of the route of what became known as the Lancaster Canal was surveyed by James Brindley in 1772. Robert Whitworth completed the survey the same year but it was not until 1791/2 when John Rennie (1761-1821) was appointed engineer that work began on a revised route in two sections north and south of the River Ribble at Preston. By 1797 a 42.4 mile length from Preston north to Tewitfield was opened and Bridge No.52, the Calder Aqueduct and weir, designed by Rennie, is located on this initial length of the canal. The two arms of the bridge's eastern parapet have been latterly partly rebuilt. The southern length of the canal was linked to the northern end by a tramway approximately five miles long that ran across the Ribble valley from Preston to Walton Summit. The tramway was built by John Rennie & William Cartwright and opened in 1803. It remained in use until the 1860s. In 1813 work began on the canal north from Tewitfield to Kendal and this opened in 1819. Construction then began on a 2.5 mile Glasson Dock link connecting the canal with the sea at Glasson Dock on the Lune estuary which opened in 1826.

In addition to carrying goods packet boats provided a passenger service from Preston to Lancaster and later to Kendal at an average speed of 10mph and the seven hour journey halved the best speeds of rival stagecoach companies. Because of the comfort of the journey many passengers stayed loyal to the packet boats even after the introduction of a rail service in the 1840s. In 1864 the canal was leased to the London & North Western Railway Company and by the 1930s the London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company had become the canal’s owners. By the latter half of the 1940s the main commercial traffic on the canal was coal shipped from Preston to the Kendal Gas Works but this trade was transferred to road haulage in 1947. During the mid-1950s the canal north of Tewitfield was closed and its northern section towards Kendal filled in. The sections of canal between Preston and Tewitfield and the Glasson Dock link are still used by pleasure craft. In 2002 the Ribble Link opened; this was a newly constructed three mile section from Preston to the River Ribble allowing connection to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. This was the first length of newly built canal to be opened in Britain for 97 years.

John Rennie is regarded as one of the greatest engineers of his time. In addition to the Lancaster Canal he was also involved with the Kennet & Avon Canal (1794-1810), the Royal Military Canal (1804-1909) and also improving the drainage of the Norfolk fens. He was also a noted bridge designer, using stone and iron to produce bridges with daringly wide arches. These included the Grade I listed Lune Aqueduct further north on the Lancaster Canal (1793-97) (List Entry 1071748), Waterloo Bridge (1811-17 taken down in 1937), Southwark Bridge (1815-19 replaced in 1921) and London Bridge (1824-31 taken down in the late 1960s) which was completed to his design by his son, George, after his death. Rennie also worked on the development of docks and harbours including the Grade II* Grimsby Docks (1797-1800) (List Entry 1379856), London Docks (1801-21), Sheerness Dockyard (1813-21) and completed by his sons, and the Grade II listed breakwater at Plymouth (1812-21) (List Entry 1386471). Rennie died in 1821 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Reasons for Listing

Bridge 52, the Calder Aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal and the associated weir on the River Calder, built in 1797 by John Rennie, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the bridge is a typical relatively unaltered example of a late-C18 John Rennie designed aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal;
* Date threshold: the aqueduct and weir pre-dates 1840 and most buildings of pre-1840 date are considered to be candidates for listing if they survive in anything like their original condition;
* Group value: the aqueduct and weir is an integral part of the canal's original design and construction and over 120 other structures including many bridges and aqueducts are already listed at Grade II along the canal.

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