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SHROPSHIRE UNION CANAL ELLESMERE PORT WIRRAL MARCH 2013 The Shropshire Union Canal was surveyed and engineered by Thomas Telford and construction began in 1827. There is a story that Thomas Jackson, in charge of the cutting of the canal, was lent £5 by a lady from Audlem when he ran short of funds. His luck turned and years later he had a stone erected and railings put round the grave of his benefactress in the old Churchyard. He himself was buried in the new Cemetery in 1885, aged 76. The 39 mile stretch from Autherley Junction near Wolverhampton to Nantwich was opened to traffic in 1835, with 15 locks at Audlem taking the water level down from the Shropshire heights to the Cheshire Plain, some 93 feet (30 metres). During the period up to 1920 the canal was the scene of great commercial activity. All the boats were horse-drawn with the exception of the stone barges which were often pulled by donkeys. The Shropshire Union Canal Company worked its own boats from the wharf each day and took goods from Audlem to Birmingham, London and Chester. Every Saturday morning a cheese boat was loaded and it was a common sight to see the roads to the wharf full of carts bringing cheese to be sent to Manchester. Twice a week fly-boats travelled between Birmingham, Audlem and Ellesmere Port. As speed was essential, they travelled on through the night, lit by huge oil lamps carrying up to 25 tons of butter, cheese, ham and grain, or coal, timber and limestone for road construction. See where this picture was taken. [?]