The role of Sir Joseph Banks, K.B., P.R.S., in the promotion and development of Lincolnshire canals and navigations

Hunt, William Michael (1986). The role of Sir Joseph Banks, K.B., P.R.S., in the promotion and development of Lincolnshire canals and navigations. PhD thesis The Open University.



Sir Joseph Banks, K.B., P.R.S., was Lincolnshire's foremost figure of the late 18th. century and his influence within the county was such that few public works were undertaken with which he was not connected. Included in these public works were canal and navigation promotions and major works of drainage of the fenlands which had a secondary navigation function associated with them.

This thesis begins with a brief biography of Sir Joseph which places him in his historical setting both nationally and internationally and is followed by a consideration of his life in his home county. In this his waterways' connections are introduced.

For Sir Joseph to understand waterways~ promotion he had to learn and this process is discussed in detail. Most of this took place outside Lincolnshire and before the periods of 'Canal Mania' and, therefore, he was ideally placed to make use of this acquired expertise for the benefit of his county when the pressure for canal promotion began in Lincolnshire.

The heart of the Lincolnshire systems of canals and navigations is now, as in his day, the River Witham and Banks' role as a Commissioner for drainage and navigation is considered. Included here is his part in the promotion of the drainage of the fens to the east of Boston and the formation of the 'Witham Navigable Drains'.

Each of the Lincolnshire waterways with which he had some connection is discussed as are the details of the various roles he assumed. On the Sleaford Navigation, for example, he was a promoter; on the Horncastle Navigation he was 'President' of the company, while on the Grantham Canal he was a protector of the Witham Trusts' interests during the promotion period.

In his different capacities Sir Joseph was often in contact with the most important canal engineers of his time. With them he developed different relationships and those with William Jessop, John Rennie and George Maxwell are especially investigated in depth.

Finally, an assessment is attempted of the part he played and the significance of his contribution to the promotion and development of the Lincolnshire waterways.

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