HUDDERSFIELD NARROW CANAL
Construction of the Canal and Towpath
The canal cut was dug deeper and wider than was required
in order to line the bed and sides with puddled clay. This
was a mixture of clay and sand, worked with water to such
an extent that an impervious seal was formed. The puddle was
then applied in layers of 10" (25cm) and left to mature
but not allowed to dry out, before the next layer was added.
The total thickness could be between 2 ft (60cm) and 2 ft
6 ins (75cm) depending on the nature of the underlying soil.
The most common method of application was to stamp it in with
the feet, which was one of the most exhausting parts of a
navvy's work. Rushes were sometimes planted to consolidate
the bank, and extra protection secured by lining the bank
with stone walling or wooden piling.
The towpath was formed out of the soil and rock excavated
from the 'cut'. The spoil was levelled out and topped with
gravel to provide a good gripping surface for the horses hooves.