Canals – Seven Man Made Wonders in Yorkshire

Economic prosperity through the ages has relied on movement of goods and Yorkshire has been blessed with good transport links. The Romans built a good road network and we still retain the A1 to this day.
Rail and air links moved us into and from the industrial revolution but when man made our rivers navigable and augmented them with canals we were ‘hot to move forward’.

Leeds Liverpool Canal at Gargrave

Are Acts of Parliament Man Made?

It makes you wonder but in delving into the history of Yorkshire rivers and canals I came across some old Acts of Parliament.
Act 1. In 1699 an act was passed creating the Aire-Calder Navigation and allowing a toll based on tonnage to be taken. By 1704 improvements to the rivers above Knottingley were completed when the Aire was made navigable to Leeds and the Calder to Wakefield. This involved the construction of 16 locks.

Act 2. The promoters of the Leeds – Liverpool canal applied to Parliament to carry out the work of linking Liverpool with Leeds and Bradford by canal. In 1770 an Act was passed which allowed the building of a canal between Leeds Bridge and North Lady’s Walk in Liverpool and empowered the raising of £260,000 in shares.

Thus two waterway improvements were enabled by act of parliament but were man made transportation facilities built on skilled water engineering.

2010-06-03 040 Leeds-Liverpool Canal, Keighley

Coast to Coast by Water

Aire Calder navigation & Leeds Liverpool Canal – I know a bit of the canal runs through that other funny county and the Aire Calder navigation is largely rivers. Never-the-less the man made actions helped Yorkshire achieve strong trading links with the world during the industrial revolution.
It was and is still possible to get from the North Sea to the Irish Sea the first Coast to Coast

Aire and Calder Navigation, above Lemonroyd Lock
The navigation carries a fairly large number of sand-barges and tankers hence the need for such large locks. Lemonroyd is the last lock on the Leeds Arm,lowering boats onto the River Aire towards Castleford.
Coal, limestone and iron ore was carried in boats called Tom Puddings which were lashed together in long trains and pulled along by a tug.

Photo Credits
Leeds Liverpool Canal at Gargrave by Andrew Middleton CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2010-06-03 040 Leeds-Liverpool Canal, Keighley by martyn jenkins CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Aire and Calder Navigation, above Lemonroyd Lock by Tim Green aka atoach CC BY 2.0
Leeds, Aire & Calder navigation by razmal8 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Leeds, Aire & Calder navigation
Leeds Bridges and waterside apartments.

The canal is now a mecca for tourists and holiday makers. The spur off to Skipton castle bustles with pleasure craft. The tow paths make good walking and unfortunately easy cycling.

skipton 029

Also See 7




Dry Stone Walls

Ruined Abbeys

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York – Top of the Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire

What is it about York that makes it such a wonder? Which part of York would feature in any list of seven man made wonders of Yorkshire?
These questions are too hard to fathom so York, with its own seven wonders and more, tops or nominations as one holistic ‘wonder’ city.

York Minster

York’s Own Seven Man Made Wonders

The Walls are a wonder to wander around.
The Minster is exceptional in age and beauty and even has seven craftsman made, stained glass wonder windows.
The selection of Old Churches around the City includes several that have been re-purposed where necessary.
The Railway Station is a Victorian master piece. There must be seven wonders of Railwayana as well as the main station.
The Museums and historic visitor attractions are generally of excellent quality worthy of lists on their own.
The Viking relics and Yorvic are examples of how York has protected and embellished it’s architectural heritage
The Snickleways with pubs at either end and in the middle. Need I say more?

York gargoyle

Some of the older residents of York have had their faces commemorated by the stone masons of the City in the gargoyles that you can see on buildings and in the Yorkshire museum.
It can be fun for the kids to find the carvings and associate them with their teachers, neighbours or family members. I may be up there with the many ghosts that are talked about by York’s wondering minstrels.

york end 2011 010

The bridges are an essential part of York. The crossing point on the Ouse was one of the main reasons the Romans chose York as a northern base for their empire. This photo was taken from Kings Reach where the road and pub often flood after rain in the dales.
The bridges now allow the boat hire companies to ply a colourful trade for tourists.

Clifford Tower

Clifford Tower is generally photographed with dancing daffodils in the foreground but the none man made sky was too good a picture to avoid.
On ghost walks Cliffords Tower is the centre of many gory tales.

York wall

This section of the wall is near Peasholme and shows part of the construction that is covered with embankments of soil elsewhere on the walls. The walls do not extend quite all the way around the city but you can walk any gaps or use the Bars (gates) to access the centre.

Rose Window in York Minster
If you are still in doubt about Yorks place at the top of our seven man made wonders I suggest you try to count the pieces of glass in the Rose Window shown above by ‘Rose Window in York Minster by countrygirlatheart’CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 who says
‘The York ‘Rose Window’ is one of the most dramatic and famous in Northern England, appearing almost modern yet in fact a composition designed in 16th century to celebrate the marriage in 1486 of King Henry 7th and Elizabeth of York. This marriage finally brought to an end the ‘Wars of the Roses’ that had divided British feudal nobility in war between 1450 and 1485, thus linking the House of Lancaster to the House of York and bringing about peace. (Henry 8th was son of this union). The central sunburst motif was added by William Peckitt of York in the late 18th century, it being the badge of the House of York.’

More pictures of York Railway Station

Also See 7




Dry Stone Walls

Ruined Abbeys

All the posts on seven Wonders of Yorkshire

Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire – Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey (44)

Our World Heritage Site at Fountains Abbey is the UK’s largest monastic ruin and a fine start to our seven wonders of Yorkshire. It is the most complete example of Cistercian abbey remains in the country.

A riot at St Mary’s Abbey in York led to the founding of Fountains Abbey in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to a more devout form of worship based on 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of the then Archbishop of York. He provided them with a site in the valley of the little River Skell described as a place “more fit for wild beasts than men to inhabit”.

Fountains Abbey thrived and the economic power was felt far and wide with activities including farming, lead mining, quarrying and horse breeding. I bet the monks never thought of tourism that is today’s main activity alongside a herd of deer. Then a series of mishaps including bad harvests, Scots raids, and the Black Death exacerbated by the effects of financial mismanagement saw a significant downturn in the abbeys fortunes. By the time of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th Century the abbey started to loose its power.

Fountains Abbey

Studely Royal

In 1767 the ruins were sold to William Aislabie, who landscaped the site and added a folly and improved water gardens that form the basis for Studley Royal.
The man made building and rebuilding over the centuries has resulted in a mosaic of architectural styles.
To become a world heritage site Fountains abbey displayed the criteria of being ‘a masterpiece of human creative genius, and an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history’.

Octagon Tower at Fountains Abbey

Also See 7




Dry Stone Walls

Ruined Abbeys

All the posts on seven Wonders of Yorkshire

Bird Watching another Seven Wonders of Yorkshire

    • The walls of its ruins act as a cliff face for a colony of nesting Jackdaws. Fountains is also one of the best spots in the North of England for some of our song birds smallest birds. Hawfinches can be seen in winter months and waterfowl on the lake all year round.
    • Between April- July Find yourself a quiet spot just beside the Abbey and watch out for Goldcrests, Coal Tits, and Great Tits.’
    • Studely park is owned by the National Trust and contains mature parkland and deciduous trees and the water features.


Photo credits
Fountains Abbey (44) by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Fountains Abbey by flying_tiger CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Octagon Tower at Fountains Abbey by and in 9th place.CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
churches by dvdbramhall CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ‘By St. Mary’s, Studley Royal, in the Deer Park adjacent to the grounds of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. The church was built between 1870 and 1878, The architect – as at Skelton on Ure – was William Burges.’

Seven Yorkshire Castles

We are not a war like race but Yorkshire folk have long stood up for what is right. Sometimes it has been necessary to stand inside a castle to repel t’other side and here is a selection of Yorkshire Castles. All are worth a visit and repay a bit of study of their history.

Scarborough Castle
Scarborough Castle
The headland was a signaling station from the 4th century and used by Romans as part of their coastal defences.
The unauthorised castle was built by William le Gross in the 12th century and rebuilt by Henry III.
George Fox the founder of the Quakers was imprisoned in the castle in 1665.
The castle was in use until bombed by the Germans during World War I.

Skipton, Grassington & Pateley Bridge
Skipton Castle
This was a fortified house and is in a good state of repair. The open sections date from 12th century.
From the 14th century the Clifford family took up residence. After it was seiged and damaged during the civil war Lady Anne Clifford restored the castle.
There are a large number of doors leading from the courtyard and children like to play in the area.
The church of Holy Trinity has a slab giving the Clifford genealogy and this is also worth a visit.

Richmond Castle
Richmond Castle
The castle is the oldest stone built castle in England which is maintained and owned by English heritage.
The remains are of a Norman castle the building of which commenced 1071 overlooking the river Swale.
The keep was added to the castle in the 12th centurywith walls of an amazing eleven feet thick.
The castle keep rises to a height of over 100 feet and can be seen from many local vantage points.
During World War I the detention cells were used to house conscientious objectors.

Middleham Castle
Middleham Castle
Built to replace a motte and bailey castle formerly on William’s Hill, Middleham castle was built in 12th century. A chaple was added in the 13th century with other additions through to 15th century.
Richard III was based at the castle when it was used as part of the government for Northern England.

Conisbrough Castle
Conisbrough Castle
See Conisbrough-village-and-castle

Pickering Castle
Pickering Castle
Visit Pickering via the North Yoork Moors Steam railway to start your historic trip.
The castle was started in the 11th century and wooden palisades were replaced during the 1220’s
The 15th century gatehouse is now a ruin but the Diate Hill and Rosamund’s towers can be seen with a postern gate to the inner bailey.
St Peter & St Paul church provides a historical backdrop to the castle and Pickering.

Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle
Started in 1379 Bolton Castle near Hawes in Wensleydale was a more comfortable castle than earlier designs. It is now one of the best UK examples of 14th century architecture in a secular building.
Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Bolton in 1568.

Photo Credits
Scarborough Castle by Ingy The Wingy Scarborough Castle by Ingy The Wingy CC BY-ND 2.0
Skipton, Grassington & Pateley Bridge by dvdbramhall CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Richmond Castle by Ambersky235 CC BY-ND 2.0
Middleham Castle by rofanatorCC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Conisbrough Castle by James.Stringer CC BY-NC 2.0
Pickering Castle by James.Stringer CC BY-NC 2.0
Bolton Castle by davesag CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Why Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

In 2006 the BBC started a new series ‘Man Made Factor’ or ‘Britain’s got Man Made Talent’. The public were asked you to nominate their favourite man made wonders in each region via BBC local radio stations and BBC websites.

The seven most popular man made wonders that the BBC then selected for Yorkshire included Chatsworth which I thought was in Derbyshire and Lincoln Cathedral surely in Lincolnshire the last time anyone looked. The BBC needs to think of a new series based on geography perhaps it could be called Location, Location, Location.
The BBC’s selection for the North East and Cumbria included our Richmond Castle which never made the God’s Own County short list.

2015 is an appropriate time to revisit our own list and refresh our selection

Putting The BBC Right

Our mission should we chose to accept is to find and justify our selection of Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire! Easy to find a list harder to narrow it down to just seven.
Before we start it is worth exploring the phrase ‘man made’. As the range of photographs shows I have taken a literal view of man made men and show some Yorkshire sculpture Park images. Little did I know that the TV characters such as the Flowerpot Men and Kermit were from Yorkshire.

sitting man
‘Sitting Yorkshire Man after creating 7 wonders.’

Our Magnificent Seven

York Minster, Walls and Railway Station – It is too hard to choose just one part of York. We could have just gone for seven man made wonders of York.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – Our first full report linked here

Thornborough Henge – Near Ripon is an oldie from the BBC list that I have to admit had passed me by until now. I have chosen to couple it with the Dry Stone walls of our county as a bit more modern man made but not by much.

The Ribbleshead Viaduct – Another Yorkshire based international railway treasure. Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire Ribblehead Viaduct

Salts Mill To celebrate our industrial heritage although we could have selected seven from a multitude of Yorkshire’s industrial wonders. Salts Mill Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire

Hull Docks & Maritime Activity – Selected to embarrass the BBC again because they chose Grimsby Docks. I can’t explain better than quote from the T shirt “Grimsby is not in Yorkshire” ‘This is not one of those subjective, poetically licensed claims of geography by which people express regional pride or national identity, and/or various degrees of dissatisfaction with existing administrative arrangements. It isn’t like saying “I’m from Texas – which country are you from?” or “Death to the Leicestershire imperialist scum! Freedom for Rutland!” It is a straightforward statement of fact. Grimsby is not, nor has it ever been, part of Yorkshire. read the rest of this interesting diatribe on Cod Almighty.

Aire Calder Navigation & Leeds Liverpool Canal – I know a bit of the canal runs through that other funny county. This is just a runner up in case I think of something better or get a better suggestion from a reader.

Molecule Man
Wholly in appropriate Men.

Photo credits
Yorkshire Sculpture Park by socialBedia CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
sitting man by clogsilk CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Molecule Man by FlickrDelusions ‘Jonathan Borofsky at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Frog @ Peace Gardens, Sheffield by timparkinson CC BY 2.0

Frog @ Peace Gardens, Sheffield
Mayor for Sheffield?

Historic Battles on Yorkshire Battlegrounds

Monument to Battle of Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge September 1066

King Harald’s army had just suffered heavy losses at Gate Fulford but were reinforced by Tostig’s troops and the Norwegian army were in celebratory mood. With fast marching and impulsive action King Harold marched part of his army from Tadcaster to Stamford bridge and caught his foes unprepared.
The memorial in the village reads ‘The Battle of Stamford Bridge – King Harold of England defeated his brother Tostig and King (Harald Sigurdsson) Hardraada of Norway here on 25th September 1066′.

The road from York through domesday village Gate Helmsley towards Stamford Bridge is the Roman road the English army marched down to the battlefield.
The village of Stamford bridge has been created since the battle and is now a tourist spot. The Swordsman inn celebrates an incident in the battle when one Viking is thought to have held the bridge over the river Derwent.

Battle of the Standard Northallerton August 1138
Continue reading Historic Battles on Yorkshire Battlegrounds

Dry Stone Walls Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire

Yorkshire has more miles of Dry Stone Wall than any other county and these walls are an outstanding feature of the Dales. It is quite a craft to build such a wall and the techniques have been passed down for generations.

dry-stone-wall by Dave_S. CC BY 2.0

When first considering the list of the man made wonders of Yorkshire I failed to think back to the efforts of our predecessors. So I apologise to those who thought I was ignoring the efforts of farmers and stone masons who have created an enduring feature of our Yorkshire landscape. Our dry stone walls.

photo: Tejvan

One of the attractions of dry stone walls are the rural form. Some straight lines, but mostly free form, twisting across the country.

In recent years, farmers have strengthened stone walls with ordinary wire fence. But, some grants have been made available to keep dry stone walls because of their cultural significance.


Dry Stone Walls and The Enclosure Acts

Continue reading Dry Stone Walls Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire