Discovering the history of Barrow Upon Soar......

Christopher Staveley - 1759-1833

Junior, Surveyor and Engineer for Barrow’s Canal

Christopher Staveley Junior (1759-1833) was the son of Christopher Staveley Senior (1726-1801), and both were heavily involved with the early development of the canal and railway systems in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in particular the Loughborough –Leicestercanal running through Barrow.

The family came originally from Melton Mowbrey, but lived in Loughborough. Both Staveleys, senior and junior, were closely connected with other prominent engineers of the time including William Jessop and Sydney Crossley - who was Engineer for the Midland Counties railway running through Barrow.

In 1791, William Jessop was appointed Engineer with Chistopher Staveley Senior as Surveyor to the newly formed Leicester Navigation Company, set up with the overall aim of getting coal from the coal mines of Coleorton and Swannington districts toLeicester. This involved making the River Soar navigable between Loughborough andLeicesterand construction of railways and canals from Swannington to Loughborough. Christopher Junior initially worked alongside his father, under the tutelage of William Jessop, and was later appointed Surveyor in 1791.

That same year he surveyed the region of theCharnwoodForestCanaland came up with a seven and a half mile long contour canal between Thringstone and Nanpantan, near Loughborough.

In 1790, Christopher Junior also surveyed the route for the Loughborough toLeicestercanal under William Jessop, and a map of the route as it passes through Barrow still exists (see copy).

The Loughborough/Leicester canal was opened in 1794, but there were many problems with theForestpart of the line including insufficient provision of adequate boats or wagons to carry the coal. Christopher Staveley Senior was appointed Superintendent of Works but delays continued, including the rebuilding of the Blackbrook reservoir to provide enough height of water in the canal. By 1798 the LoughboroughtoLeicestercanal was successfully shipping coal from the Erewash coalfields, but the rest of the scheme was not so successful - that winter the Blackbrook reservoir burst its banks and did much damage to the area.

This was ruinously expensive for the Leicester Navigation Company and the delays proved the last straw for the remaining Swannington & Coleorton coal pits, which closed down until the opening of the Leicester/Swannington railway in 1833.

In conjunction with his own son Edward(1795-1872), Chris Staveley Junior also engineered the Leicestershire andNorthamptonUnionCanal, surveyed the line of the Melton Mowbrey canal in 1790, the canal line of the Oakham canal in 1792, and with his father the extension of the Leicestershire and Northampton Union canal to Market Bosworth.

Just a few years after Christopher's death, the story of the Staveleys took an unfortunate turn. Christopher's son Edward apparently embezzled approximately £1,400 from the Leicester Navigation Company (more than £100k in today's money).

His younger brother, another Christopher (b. 1798), was also implicated and later committed suicide. Edward however fled to Americawith his new wife Mary Ann in 1833. He worked in the USas a canal and railway engineer in Baltimoreand later moved to Quebec, where he set up a successful architectural practice. He died in 1872 aged 77.


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Last Updated. 15-April-2019 By admin