Newry Canal

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The Newry Canal, located in Northern Ireland, was built to link the Tyrone coalfields (via Lough Neagh and the River Bann) to the Irish Sea at Carlingford Lough near Newry.


The canal was commissioned by the Commissioners of Inland Navigation for Ireland, which had been set up in 1729 by the Irish parliament. Edward Lovatt Pearce was the Surveyor General at the time, and was asked to oversee the scheme in 1731, but gave the task to one of his architectural assistants, Richard Cassels. With the death of Pearce in 1733, Cassels became the engineer for the project, which included building the first navigation lock in Ireland. The reasons why he was dismissed from the project are unclear, but he was replaced by Thomas Steers, who employed a local man called William Gilbert to oversee the work, which was completed by 1741. It was the first summit-level canal to be built in the British Isles since Roman times, pre-dating the more famous Bridgewater Canal by nearly thirty years.

The canal has 14 locks, nine of them to the south of the summit, which is 29 m (94 ft) above the level of Carlingford Lough. The locks are 13 m (44 ft) long and 5 m (15 ft 6 in) wide and could accommodate boats of up to 120 tonnes. They were 3.6 to 4 m(12 to 13 ft) deep and each lock was faced with stone from the Benburb quarries early in the 1800s after the...
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