Navigating County's Canals. . . on the Web; 300 Years of History in New Archive
Byline: Stephen Rylance
AN INTERNET archive is being created to bring together the 300-year history of Cheshire's canals and rivers for the first time.
The Waterways Trust is compiling thousands of historical documents held by British Waterways and local authorities throughout Cheshire to tell the full story of the county's waterways.
The pounds 650,000 project, which has been funded by a pounds 400,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will bring together records of the Bridgewater, Trent, Mersey and Shropshire Union canals, all of which are currently held outside Cheshire.
It will also chart the progress of the Weaver Navigation Canal from 1721 to the end of the 19th century, which is contained in records held by the Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service.
Archivists will begin the task in October and the site should be up and running by August 2004.
When complete, the virtual archives catalogue will include documents, plans, drawings, accounts and photographs which have so far been inaccessible to the public and even to professional archivists.
It will enable researchers to scan the complete history of the Weaver, which played a vital role in the county's industrial development by enabling the growth of the salt and chemical industries.
Cheshire's waterway archives have been scattered around the UK at locations such as the historical records office in London and a large canal history collection in Warwickshire.
Project developers hope to capitalise on the current revival in historical research, and particularly family trees, which has been boosted by internet technology. …