The Salterhebble Branch

Aka Halifax Arm, Halifax Branch.

From 1765, Salterhebble was the closest that the Calder & Hebble Navigation came to Halifax.

The canal came closer in 1828 when the Salterhebble to Halifax branch opened under an Act of 1825.

A newspaper report [Thursday 6th September 1827] announced

New Canal to Halifax.

This canal, which is a continuation of the Calder & Hebble Navigation from Salterhebble to Halifax, a distance of a mile and a quarter, is proposed to be opened on or about the 1st January 1828.

The line of the canal extends along the valley, keeping within the township of Southowram and reaches a point called Bayley Hall within a short distance of the old Halifax church. Owing to the rise in ground from Salterhebble to Halifax, it has been found necessary to make fourteen locks in the new canal. A vessel will be able to make its passage from Satlerhebble to Halifax in about two hours. The saving that will accrue to the town and township of Halifax in the difference between the conveyance by land and water, is estimated at nearly £2000 per annum. It is supposed the cost of this undertaking will amount to about £60,000


The 19th century flight of locks replaced an earlier staircase of 3 locks which was built in 1767. There were 14 locks to raise the water level through 110 ft between Salterhebble and Bailey Hall.

In 1828, a steam engine was installed to pump water to the head-level at Bailey Hall.

Locks include:

A typical barge took three hours to complete the stretch.

The local mill-owners were protective of their own water-supply, and the Calder & Hebble Navigation Company maintained the water in the branch by pumping water through brick lined culverts from Salterhebble to a small reservoir at Phoebe Lane, Siddal. The pumping station and its steam engine were in continuous use from 1828 to the early 1940s. It closed in 1944 and the machinery was removed. The engine house and engine-man's cottage are still there.

On Monday, 29th May 1911, Houdini staged an appearance when he escaped from Whitegate lock. This was considered the only suitable place with sufficient depth of water.

The expense of maintaining the branch meant that tolls were twice those on the main Calder and Hebble Navigation. The closure of the Halifax Flour Society in the 1930s badly affected the usage of the branch. The branch was used until 1942, after which it was abandoned, drained, and filled in.

In 1957, the former Bailey Hall wharf was purchased by John Mackintosh & Sons, and a new factory complex was built on the site.

One part of the branch canal remains – that section by the former Nahum's Union Mills at Salterhebble

See Farrar Mill Lane Aqueduct

This & associated entries use material contributed by Jeffrey Knowles

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 14:46 / 11th June 2024 / 5442

Page Ref: MMS1229

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