© 2016 Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust
These are the Bye Laws of the Wyrley and Essington Navigation as drawn up in April 1795. This was taken from the company minutes held at Kew. I photographed them in January 2013 and transcribed them. I have tried to keep to the original as far as possible, even including the old English and spelling mistakes.
BYE LAWS AND ORDERS FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND MANAGEMENT
OF THE WYRLEY AND ESSINGTON CANAL NAVIGATION
The several Articles Rules and Regulations hereunder written shall be and are hereby made and constituted Bye Laws and Orders for the better Government and Management of the said Canal and the Works belonging thereto And also for the better Government and Regulation of all and every the Agents Servants and workmen of the said Company of Proprietors. And also all and every Boat or Watermen who shall or may at any time or times hereafter be employed in or about the said Canal or other works thereto belonging it.
That every Boat navigated towards Wolverhampton shall in its course be kept to the Side of the Canal nearest the Towing path and every boat navigated towards Lichfield as well Loaded or Unloaded shall give free passage to the respective boats navigated towards Wolverhampton upon pain that any person not duly conforming to this Bye Law shall forfeit for every offence the sum of five shillings.
That every Boat passing or repassing upon the canal shall be navigated after the rate of two miles an hour at the least and not exceeding three miles an hour at the most and that boats pursuing the same course shall follow in regular order without any attempt to pass or injure one another upon pain that any person not duly complying with this Bye Law shall forfeit for every offence the sum of twenty shillings.
That if any person after taking in loading shall suffer his boat remain upon this canal for the space of one hour without proceeding towards the place of destination shall forfeit for every offence the sum of twenty shillings.
That if any boat shall be towed with any Horse or Horses along the canal without some person in the steerage to guide and direct the same the owner of every such boat shall for every offence against this Bye Law forfeit and pay the sum of Ten shillings.
That no Boat shall be navigated without a Steerer and without a line fixed to the Mast/Pole at a point four feet higher than the sides of the Boat upon pain of forfeiting for every offence against the Bye Law the sum of five shillings.
That no Horse or Ass shall be permitted to pass upon the towing path (unless in drawing the boats) without forfeiting for every such Horse or Ass so passing thereon the sum of Five shillings for every offence.
That if any person shall be convicted of breaking any of the fences belonging to the towing path he shall incur a penalty for every offence not exceeding forty shillings nor less than ten shillings at the discretion of the Magistrate before whom such conviction shall be made.
That if any Boatman shall leave open any of the Gates on the Towing Paths the Owner of every such Boat shall for every offence against this Bye Law forfeit and pay the sum of Ten shillings.
That if any person shall Bathe himself or swim any dog or dogs in the canal every such person offending against this Bye Law shall forfeit and pay the sum of five shillings.
That all boats lying to shall be moored at both ends on the side of the canal opposite the Towing Path upon pain of forfeiting for every offence against this Bye Law not exceeding thirty shillings nor less than Ten shillings at the discretion of the Magistrate convicting the offender.
That no person excepting the owner of Coals navigated on the Canal or persons employed by him shall be permitted to rake or search the Canal for Coals upon pain of forfeiting for every offence against this Bye Law not exceeding forty shillings nor less than twenty shillings at the discretion of the Magistrate convicting the Offender.
That no person shall navigate two Boats fastened together without a Steerer in each Boat under the penalty of forfeiting not exceeding forty shillings nor less than twenty shillings for every offence at the discretion of the Magistrate before whom the Offender shall be convicted.
That every Boatman or person having the conduct of a Boat shall before he opens the Gates of any Lock examine the paddles and valves and see that the Water in and below the Lock is of the same Level and then shall guide it as gently as possible into the Lock and also at such times be prepared with a Lever or piece of wood which he shall put between the Lock and the fore end of the Boat to prevent the Boat striking against the Lock but shall not use any Shaft or Staff with Iron against the Walls or Gates of the Locks to force the Boat out of the same nor shall at any time when the Boat is in a Lock and the water sunk level with the Lower Canal open the upper valve to force the Boat out of the Lock nor shall he suffer his Boat to go out of the Lock till he hath let down the Lower valves and when out shut close the lower Gate or for every Offence shall forfeit not exceeding the Sum of Five pounds nor less than forty shillings.
That no person shall draw more water by any of the paddles of the Locks of this Navigation than shall be sufficient to fill the Chamber of such Lock for the convenient carriage of any Boat through the same nor draw any water out of one pound of this Navigation to increase the water in another without Licence or consent in writing for that purpose nor shall leave any of the paddles or valves up so as to waste any Water upon pain of forfeiting for every such offence not exceeding five pounds nor less than forty shillings.
That no Boatman shall draw his Boat with violence against any of the Swivel Bridges nor after having passed by any such Swivel Bridge shall leave the same twined to one side of the said Canal Also
That no person shall draw any Boat upon the said Canal with more than one Horse Mare or Gelding nor permit any Horse Mare or Gelding to be loose or at large upon the Towing Path of the said Canal and in the case of stopping or mooring any Boat upon the said Canal during the time of such Boat so being stopped or moored to tye the Horse Mare or Gelding drawing the same by the head in an Halter or other fastening not exceeding two yards in length nor shall permit any Horse mare or Gelding to bite the Quick planted to fence such Towing Path from adjoining Lands under the penalty of twenty shillings for each Act and offence last above mentioned.
That no person shall take into or discharge from any boat the whole or any part of her Loading from or upon the Bank of any Aqueduct or whilst such Boat remains in the Chamber of any Lock upon pain of forfeiting for every offence a Sum not exceeding forty shillings nor less than ten shillings.
That when the whole or any part of the Loading of any Boat shall be discharged therefrom the same shall be delivered and placed on the respective Wharf where the same shall be so discharged as the Wharfinger at such Wharf shall direct upon pain of forfeiting for every offence the Sum of forty shillings.
That every Boat or Vessel unladen or having on board a less Quantity of Lading than twenty Tons (except Boats and other Vessels returning after been discharged of their Cargoes) shall be subject to the like rates as would be payable for such Boat or other Vessel if the same had on board Twenty Tons.
That if any person shall float any Timber upon the said Canal or Collateral Cuts or shall suffer the Loading of any Boat or other Vessel to lie over the sides of any such Boat or Vessel or shall overload any Boat or Vessel navigating in or upon the said Canal or Collateral Cuts so as to obstruct the passage of any other Boat or Vessel and shall not immediately upon Notice given to him remove such obstruction or if any person shall throw any Ballast Gravel Stones or Rubbish into any part of the said Canal or Collateral Cuts or any Trenches or Watercourses to be made by virtue of this Act every such person for every such Offence shall forfeit and pay a Sum not exceeding Five Pounds.
That if any person shall wilfully and maliciously and to the prejudice of the said Navigation break throw down damage or destroy any banks or other works to be erected and made by virtue of this Act every such person shall be subject and liable to the like pains and penalties as in cases of Felony and the Court by and before whom such person shall be tried shall have power and authority to cause such person to be punished in like manner as Felons are directed to be punished by the Laws and Statutes of this Realm or in mitigation of such punishment such Court may if they think fit award such Sentence as they think fit in cases of petit Larceny.
That if any Master of any Vessel or other person shall fasten or Moor or suffer to be fastened or Moored his or their Boat by any Line Chain or Fastening across the Towing Path so as to obstruct or impede the passage along the Towing Path every person guilty of such offence shall forfeit and pay a Sum not less than ten shillings or more than thirty shillings at the discretion of the Magistrate convicting the offender.
Ordered that the Company Clerk do forthwith cause a proper number of the above Laws to be printed and posted up at the several Bridges and other convenient places upon the Line of the Canal.
Bye Laws and Orders as agreed at a general meeting of Proprietors of the Wyrley and Essington Canal Navigation held at the Swan Hotel, Wolverhampton 11th May 1795