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LEACH, Edmund

A treatise of universal inland navigations, and the use of all sorts of mines...plainly demonstrating the possibility of making any river and stream of running water in the world navigable by canals of a new construction...together with the construction...of a new invented mechanical and hydraulic machine...to which is added a supplement plainly demonstrating the possibility and means whereby a ship of any size may be launched at any time (etc).
London, for Alex. Hamilton, 1791. 2nd edn.

In 1774, Edmund Leach surveyed a line for a Tamar canal to carry inland the shelly sand used as a fertilizer. It was to be a contour canal winding around the steep hillsides of the area with a 68 mile summit level and 5 inclined planes. He later surveyed a line for a Liskeard-Looe Canal which was to have two inclined planes.

Leach became convinced of the merits of an inland navigation system and its advantages in regard to the development of agriculture, and in his book he sets out to show how it could best be accomplished. He gives a series of instructions, derived from his experience and studies, for the making of canals and navigation cuts, exemplified by his work on the Tamar and Liskeard canal projects (about which there is much information).

Of particular interest is the emphasis he gives to the inclined plane over the more usual pound lock. He worked out a design using boarding, rather than rails, on which two carriages taking the boats dry ran on rollers. The motive power was to be provided by water wheels or tread wheels and he also devised a system to overcome the problems and expense of transhipping cargoes.

The book, which predates Robert Fulton's more famous treatise on the same subject, first appeared in 1790 with Leach's name in the imprint only. This is the second edition, which now carries his name on the title-page.


8vo. (ii) + vi + (ii) + 201 + (1)pp, 5 engraved plates. Contemporary full calf, neatly rejointed. With 18th century bookplate (designed by Peter Maverick) of the Erasmus Hall Library, New York City, and some later stamps on the ffe only. Skempton No.829.



Catalogue No: 5138