Page images
PDF
EPUB

walls. The area of the whole basin will be 128J acres, or a space 8,000 feet long and 700 feet wide, the whole of which will be sunk 40 feet, and the greater part of it 90 feet, below the present surface. This excavation will not be a light matter.

It is calculated that, by this arrangement, there will be in the basin 22 feet of water at low water of spring tides, and 37 feet at high water, for the rise at springs is expected to be 15 feet. Thus ships of the largest class may float in the basin. To get them there a canal will be cut at'the level of the bottom of the basin from the entrance of the basin to that point in the stream' of the Mersey where the requisite depth of water is naturally to be found. This great canal will follow the general direction of the Irwell and Mersey courses; it will not, however, follow loops or windings, but will approximate to a right line. It wiil, one sees, be far deeper than the present bed of the Irwell, especially near Manchester; and below the junction of the two rivers the course and depth of the Mersey will be artificially regulated till the deep water near Liverpool is reached. The general breadth of the canal will be 228 feet at the level of high water, and 80 feet at the bottom. Every three or four miles there will be passing places, where the canal will be three times the ordinary breadth. The rise of the spring tide at Liverpool is 27 feet 6 inches; as has been said, it is expected to ba 15 feet at Manchester; and the time of low water will be two-and-a-quarter hours later at Manchester than at Liverpool.

The railways which cross the course of the proposed canal will be passed over by raised, or by swing, bridges.

The estimated cost of the work is £5,072,921.

The soundness of this project has been questioned; and it is not the method which Parliament has been asked to sanction. Let us now say a few words on the rival scheme of Mr. Leader Williams, which is the plan adopted, and which is now before the House of Commons.

The most important feature to be noted in this project is that it dispenses with the vast cutting or sinking of the ground at the Manchester terminus, and that there will be docks at a level very little below that of the streets. Instead of sinking the ground to below the level of low water of spring tides at Liverpool, Mr. Williams will, by means of locks, gradually raise the ship canal until it shall be nearly as high above the sea as the foundations of the Manchester warehouses. And he considers that this arrangement should commend his plan to the favour of the manufacturers, because to have their merchandise lowered or raised 50 feet whenever it was shipped or landed would be an intolerable inconvenience.

The docks will be formed on some level ground, part of which is now the race-course. There will be one large, and four branch docks, so arranged as to give a large amount (four miles linear) of quay space, and great facility in working. The large dock will be 70 acres in extent, and 1,350 feet at its greatest width, with gates 80 . feet wide.

[graphic]

Over the distance of fifteen miles, from the docks at Manchester to Latchford above Warrington, there will be three large enclosures of water (called in the reports pounds), the levels of which will be successively lower as they approach the Mersey. The first pound, three miles long, extending to Barton, will be at the level of the water in the docks. The second, four miles long, will be at a lower level, and extend to Irlam. The third, reaching to Latchford, will be eight miles long. This last will be at the level of high water; the lock, therefore, will be partly tidal. The rise from this by lockage to the level of the docks will be 35 feet.

From Manchester to Warrington the canal will be 100 feet wide at bottom. And this great width explains why three sets of locks are provided at Barton, Irlam, and Latchford. There will be no need of special passing places, because, this breadth being maintained, it will be possible for two large ships to pass each other in any part of the canal.

The supply of fresh water from the rivers is considered to be enough to fill the canal to the required levels from Irlam to Manchester. The gates and sluices will be worked by hydraulic power.

The canal will be broader below Warrington than at Latchford; near Runcorn it will be 300 feet wide at bottom. The necessary depth will be obtained by dredging, and the channel will be kept constant by the use of training walls, instead of being allowed to shift as it is naturally disposed to do. Below ltuneorn the river is of the requisite depth for large vessels.

The crossings of roads, railways, and canals are, of course, provided for. It is also shown how, at intermediate stations along the Canal, docks may be, now or at some future time, constructed in connection with it. The estimated expense of the Canal, according to Mr. Williams's design, is £5,160,000.

Whenever the necessary Act of Parliament shall have been procured, Mr. Williams will, no doubt, exert his skill in the prosecution of this gigantic work, and it may be safely predicted that he will succeed in overcoming all obstacles. The doubt, among those who have experience in such matters is as to the completion of the work for the estimated cost, for engineers keep their estimates as low as they conscientiously can in order that promoters may not be discouraged, and large works—especially large works of an unprecedented character—are apt to entail greater expense than ever their projectors looked for. This remark is quite in place here, because the ship canal is wanted, not chiefly as a triumph of art, but as a means of cheaper transport of South Lancashire goods. Now, if the Canal should prove to be very expensive—if it should run ont to £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 instead of £5,000,000—and such excesses have occurred ere now—the rates of transport must be proportionately increased; and then what becomes of the competition with the railways?

To guard as much as possible against the Canal ever having a common interest with the railways, it should be managed by a Board or Trust similar to that which manages the Dock Estate at Liverpool. In that way it will have the best chance of being worked for the public benefit. "Whereas, if it should be worked by a company which is to derive a profit from its business, the public interest would probably be postponed to the benefit of the company.

Those who may have paid attention to all that has been spoken and written on the subject of this projected Ship Canal must have perceived that it is principally Manchester that will derive benefit from it if it should succeed. Manchester will load and ship, on or from her own quays, goods from or to all parts of the world. But for the other Lancashire towns, they, if they desire to use the Canal, must reach some point in it by another conveyance. For some of them the inland transport may be as far to Manchester as to Liverpool, and, if the Canal dues should in the result be heavy (which no man can affirm that they may not be), then these towns will be in a not much better condition than they are at present without the Ship Canal.

From these last-mentioned considerations has sprouted a conception which is not unfavourably regarded by many reflecting men, and which, therefore, deserves mention. It is that a station for docks should be selected some way up the tidal portion of the Mersey—say at Warrington. If the channel to this station were deepened and widened so as to give free access to heavy ships, the cost and difficulty of the achievement might be estimated with more certainty than those of the Ship Canal to Manchester, because there would be precedents for such a work. Then, if from the principal towns in South Lancashire, canal communication by large barges could be established, the expense would again be readily measurable, and many towns might participate in the accommodation.

Water carriage is, from its comparative cheapness, once more rising very much in repute, not in England only, but also on the continent of Europe. It is looked upon as one efficient means of keeping down the cost of goods, so that, if we would not be undersold, we must, as well as our neighbours, pay attention to our waterways.*

And this reflection leads to the last, and probably the most important,

deduction from the many opinions regarding traffic that have been

* Yet it must not be assumed that a canal can always underbid a railway. The original cost of construction, the tedious length, and other disadvantages, may sometimes give a canal the worst of the competition with a railway. This seeins to be proved by what was said in the text concerning the decadence of the Irwell and Mersey navigation. If there could be a public control of the railways, canals need not be resorted to except in districts where they will certainly cheapen or otherwise facilitate traffic.

noticed in this paper. What Manchester and the South Lancashire towns are saying in reference to their own district is applicable to all parts of Great Britain. It is desired to free trade from every avoidable tax on shelter for ships, warehousing of merchandise, and transport of goods. Besides the traffic in her own manufactures and imports, this country, by reason of her carrying trade, is hugely interested in maintaining numerous, good, and cheap ports; and having at command ample and economical means of collecting and distributing commodities over the entire island.

Thus our interest impels us to the multiplication of canals and canalized rivers. And it would be well for us if we could see our way to having these, as well as the railways, worked solely for the public good, and not for the profit of investors. To effect such a change the public must, in some manner, buy out the proprietors. There is a wide-spread feeling of distrust of Government management, which is said by many to be more expensive and far less satisfactory than management by private companies. But that opinion ought not to be adopted without the strongest proofs of its correctness. If the Government could, by controlling the railways and canals, render transport both cheap and easy, an immense assistance would be given to the general business of the country. Where such a great interest is concerned, no traditional or prejudiced distrust should be allowed to operate; but that method should be adopted which, after calm and careful investigation, may be found to be most eligible. It would be an immense gain to trade if the railways and canals of the kingdom were all under one control, and that not a money-making one. According to present appearances, if we are to be prosperous, commerce must be the source of our wealth. We enjoy at present a large share of the commerce of the world, and so accustomed is merchandise to flow towards us that we have only to be moderately gracious to it and we may distance all competitors for its favour. On the other hand, if we should be too secure in the permanence of our commercial supremacy, and if security should breed negligence, there are, we may be sure, many nations keenly alive to the benefit to be gained by supplanting us, and who will incur expense and pains to do it. We cannot too soon begin to regard our ports and our means of transport as national possessions, not as rival establishments. That which is moving South Lancashire as an aggrieved district, should move us all as a trading nation. Cheap harbours and cheap transport are not the only things required to produce a prosperous commerce; but they are notable elements of prosperity, and prosperity will hardly come where they are not

It will be well if out of this provincial ebullition we may gain a hint as to a national policy.

W. G. Hamlbt.

THE PROGRESS OF SOCIALISM.

WHEN Louis Reybaud—who, it appears, was the inventor of the word "socialism"—wrote his article on Socialists, in the "Dictionnaire de l'Economie Politique," in 1854, he believed that their unhealthy hallucinations had wholly ceased to exist. "Socialism is dead," he says; " to speak of it is to pronounce its funeral oration." This affirmation of Reybaud's was the general opinion some few years since. Socialism was then studied merely as affording curious examples of the wanderings of the human mind.

At the present day, on the Continent, men have fallen into the opposite extreme. Socialism is said to be everywhere. The red spectre haunts the imagination of all, and it is a very general belief that we are on the eve of a great social cataclysm. Though this may he an exaggeration, it is nevertheless certain that Socialism, in a variety of forms, has spread most extraordinarily of late. In a violent form it has been adopted by town labourers, workmen in factories, &c., and is now spreading to the country. The agrarian movement in Ireland, which is now brewing in other lands, clearly owes to it its origin. In a scientific form it has penetrated into the domain of political economy, and is upheld by professors in nearly all the Universities of Germany aud Italy. Under the form of State Socialism it may be found seated in the Cabinets of sovereigns; and under a Christian form it has been accepted by Catholic priests, and, more generally still, by the ministers of different Protestant denominations.

In the debates of the German Parliament, May 23rd, 1878, when a law was proposed by the Government of the Empire against Socialism, the Deputy Joerg, one of the most distinguished orators in Germany, said very rightly that "a movement, almost imperceptible when it commenced, has developed with extraordinary rapidity, and that this

« EelmineJätka »