The Eighteenth Century

The Village and its Church continued as an agricultural community for the first six decades of the Century. Two events in the 1770’s were to change the nature of Braunston and its inhabitants for ever.

The first was the Inclosure Act of 1774 when all allotments of land were made and fenced, roads and pathways were authorised and the layout of the Parish assumed its present form.

The second was the success of of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal in far off Cheshire. The perceived success of the Duke’s canal encouraged a number of schemes to link with it. A proposed canal from the Trent and Mersey canal to Coventry and southwards to the Thames at Oxford would impact on Braunston.

NavigatorsThe register of the Parish Church records the baptism, on 20th July 1774 of “Francis, son of Francis Hollinshead Navigator and Catherine his wife”. The event was evidently so unusual that the Clerk inked in the word navigator beside the entry, (no other occupations are noted at this time). Most probably the men who built the canal, known as “navigators” which word was later shortened to ”navvy”, were local labouring men to whom the navigation works were a welcome extra to harvesting and similar casual work.

It would appear the canal was opened to Braunston in 1774. A memorandum on the Parish registers records that; “coal was first brought to Braunston by water carriage in november 1774”.

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