James Brindley

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Brindley, James (1716–72). Brindley, an engineer, was born in Derbyshire and set up as millwright at Leek in Staffordshire. In 1759 he was put in charge of the duke of Bridgwater's canal between his coal pits at Worsley and Manchester. Brindley subsequently supervised the building of a number of canals, including the Liverpool to Manchester, opened in 1767; the Trent and Mersey, 140 miles long and involving a 2,880-yard tunnel at Harecastle; and the Staffordshire and Worcester. ‘The great Mr. Brindley’, wrote an observer in 1767, ‘is as plain a looking man as one of the boors of the Peak, or one of his own carters, but when he speaks, all ears listen.’ Hard-working and inventive, Brindley was largely self-taught and barely literate: ‘midlin louk’ was his laconic account of an early attempt to improve a steam-engine.

J. A. Cannon

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Brindley, James (1716–72) English canal-builder who constructed the Bridgewater Canal, the first major canal in England. It linked Worsley, Lancashire, to Manchester and was commissioned by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803). The design included an aqueduct over the River Irwell. Brindley was responsible for c.565km (350mi) of canals that hastened the Industrial Revolution.