About the Springs Branch, Leeds and Liverpool Canal
The first section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was opened from Bingley to Skipton in 1773. Much to the disappointment of Lord Thanet, who lived in Skipton Castle, the canal did not go very close to the limestone quarries on his estate. So he obtained permission to build a short branch canal which opened later the same year. The Springs Branch, also known as the Thanet Canal, was originally about a third of a mile long to loading chutes close to Skipton castle. The chutes were quite long and tall which made the falling limestone noisy, and damaged the boats. The canal was subsequently extended and the feeder tramway altered to use shorter loading chutes further away from the castle.
The Springs Branch leaves the main line of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Skipton and runs for half a mile to the remains of the loading chutes. Unfortunately there is no proper turning point and boats longer than 35ft (10.7m) will have to reverse in one direction. The branch is currently restricted due to a rock fall in January 2016, which has not been cleared.
[The photo shows a boat moored on the Springs Branch in Skipton – by Ian Moore]