Change & Consolidation

As the century passed the canal Trustees were hard pressed to find money to develop the coal mines and to build modern coke ovens – approximately £23,000 a year had to be spent on new plant.

More money was needed to offset the threat of the railway on new canal development. The Trustees were advised to sell their navigation to the interested railway companies (the Midland, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company) and the matter proceeded to Parliament. In 1872, the Bridgewater Navigation Company Ltd was formed and this company purchased the shares of both the canal undertakings from the Trustees for £1,120,000.

Though the railways were in no way in control, many of their shareholders were also shareholders of the new company. The news of the sale created something of a sensation in Worsley and some of the local population expressed alarm about their potential unemployment.