HEATH OLD HALL,
THE BARNSLEY CANAL.
Few localities can boast scenery more beautiful or more diversified than that which strikes the eye at every
turn in the immediate neighbourhood of Heath. The Old Hall constitutes an interesting feature, from whatever
point it is viewed; but when taken in conjunction with wood and water, the former dispersed over its undulating
pasture-land in every variety of form and foliage, it then assumes a character of richness and beauty such as
Claude delighted to contemplate, and which he so faithfully depicted in the glowing hues of his pencil.
To give full force even to the most pleasing natural objects, the artist must study them whilst under
effects of light and shadow suited to their various combinations; otherwise their characteristic beauties will
frequently be unobserved by him, although the scene may unite in itself all the elements essential to the formation of a perfect landscape. These remarks are strikingly applicable to the view here exhibited, which is taken
from the battlement of the bridge called Agbrigg, the single arch of which spans the Barnsley Canal.
This canal was made under authority of an act passed in the 33d George III., entitled " An act for making
and maintaining a navigable canal from the river Calder, in the township of Warmfield-cum-Heath, to or near
the town of Barnsley, and from thence to Barnby Bridge, in the township of Cawthorne, in the west-riding of
the county of York; and certain railways and other roads to communicate therewith." The subscribers to this
work were incorporated by the name of "The Company of Proprietors of the Barnsley Canal Navigation," and
consisted of one hundred and thirty persons, among whom were the Duke of Leeds, Lord Hawke, the Countess
Dowager of Bute, the Earl of Wigtoun, seven baronets, and almost all the landholders in its immediate vicinity.
Commencing from the river Calder, about one mile below Wakefield Bridge, and proceeding thence in a
southerly direction by Walton Hall, " the seat of the ancient family of the Watertons," this canal continues its
course about fifteen miles through a country abounding in hill and dale, and apparently presenting difficulties
insuperable to an undertaking of this character. But what cannot the ingenuity, and skill, and contrivance of
man accomplish ? " This canal," says the author of Inland Navigation, &c, " was projected principally with the
view of opening the very valuable and extensive coal-fields in the neighbourhood of Barnsley and Silkstone; and
its execution has had the effect of introducing the coal worked in the latter place into the London market, where
it holds a distinguished place among the Yorkshire coals. The making of this canal has also been of incalculable
advantage to the agriculturists in its vicinity, by the facility it gives to the introduction of the Knottingley lime;
but it has been more particularly experienced by those who are employed in bringing into cultivation the vast
tracts of moorland lying to the north and west of its termination at Barnby Basin."
This canal was opened on the 8th of June, 1/99.*
* Historical Account of Inland Navigation and Railroads of Great Britain, by J. Priestley, Esq., p. 55.