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It was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1763 and completed in 1770, under the supervision of the engineer John Grundy Jr. Eight locks were required to overcome the difference in altitude, six of which were constructed with sides consisting of four elliptical bays, a design only ever used on this canal in Britain.
The fund soon reached £850, and on 18 February 1760 the town clerk approached John Smeaton to carry out this survey.
When completed, the commissioners leased the tolls to Charles Chaplin, who held ten shares and was also a commissioner, for an initial period of seven years.
When the lease was due for renewal, no other takers were found, and Chaplin was granted a 99-year lease, despite the fact that the Act did not authorise such an action.
He collected the tolls but failed to maintain the navigation.
When complaints were received, a new Act of Parliament was obtained in 1828, to alter the tolls and legalise Chaplin's long lease.