Transport on the River Aire
The source of the river Aire is near Malham, Settle it travels south to Cold Coniston thence to Skipton, Bingley and Shipley. The Aire then passes the remains of Kirkstall Abbey to Leeds. From Leeds the Aire runs east to Temple Newsam where it joins the Calder near Castleford and passes through Fryston Hall, Ferrybridge, Knottingley, Beal, Haddlesey, Weeland, Snaith, Rawcliffe until it joins the Ouse near the village of Airmyn.
On the River Aire both Rawcliffe and Airmyn were to become ports around the same time and because they are only two miles apart there must have been fierce competition between them for trade. Airmyn nearest to the Ouse would have had greater river depth to take the larger vessels.
In 1744 the Aire and Calder Navigation with the landowners of the time started to build wharves, cranes and warehouses and so commercial prosperity flourished. Soon a regular coastal service to London was established as well as boat building of craft suitable for the onward transportation of goods arriving at the port.
(The picture shows the River Aire at Airmyn)
In 1774 the House of Commons Committee on the Aire and Calder Navigation reported "since the Navigation was begun in 1699, and testified to great benefit which had resulted to trade as a result of being able to transport heavy goods such as coal, stones, lime and manure more conveniently than before. However, highlighted problems caused mills along the course of the river drawing down water from dams above them, and thereby causing boats to run aground. Witnesses produced 6 plans illustrating improvements which they recommended be made to the navigations of the Aire and Calder from Leeds and Wakefield to Armine, and to the Ouse from Aimine to Selby. These included the making of new cuts between Leeds and Haddlesey, and of a canal between Haddlesey to Selby. Estimated that if these plans were pursued the jouney from Leeds or Wakefield to Selby (approximately 30 miles) could be accomplished in 12 hours."
Further down the river Aire are the villages of Snaith and West Haddlesey, which although the river levels were low still provided adequate means of shipping goods and services. As early as 1223 Snaith had a weekly market and three Fairs. Flax and butter were major produce in the area with flax coming from Swinefleet and Reedness possible shipped down the river. River trade from further a field is shown by the fact in 1771 household goods were shipped from London to Snaith presumably changing vessels at Airmyn. In 1775 coal was been shipped to Snaith for the surrounding area.
In 1778 a canal was built between Selby and West Haddlesey because of the difficulty of navigating this far down the Aire and thus traffic down the river Aire via Airmyn, Rawcliffe and Snaith reduced.
By the 1800's the building of the Leeds - Selby canal and later the Goole - Knottingley saw the trade gradually diminished. Although a bridge where the ferry use to run between Little and Great Airmyn was suggested the cost was too prohibitive so they settled for a clock instead.
In 1826 the Knottingley to Goole canal was completed which caused further decline of the river Aire traffic although as late as the 1830 coal and other goods were been shipped daily from Snaith to Leeds.
These can be anything from a simple rowing boat to a flat bottomed type of punt capable of transporting carriages or in more recent times cars.
Airmyn to Little Airmyn - in existance in 1379, according to the Poll Tax, and run by John Hayll and John Muram who were taxed at 6d instead of the usual 4d.
For picture follow link - http://www.web-exhibition.net/details.aspx?id=698 - use back arrow to return.
1851 Census Robert Garrot and John Mountain Ferrymen
Carlton to Snaith Although today the river crossing does not look difficult, at the time it was dangerous and many people were drowned and coffins lost - it was used for transporting coffins to be buried in Snaith. This was the way of crossing the Aire until 1777 when a toll bridge was built. The remnants of this still remain when the new bridge was built in 1928.
See 'River Ouse' for 'Aire and Calder', and Leeds.
1813 - "Messrs. Fenton, Murray and Wood of Leeds, on the 18th June exhibited a new steam boat in the river Aire, when the novelty of the exhibition attracted an immense crowd of spectators." (The Annals)
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