The Grand Junction Canal was opened in 1800 and came within a mile of Newport Pagnell. A branch to the town was first proposed in 1793 and again in 1802 but the project was not sufficiently advantageous to the Grand Junction Canal Company. In 1813, William Praed of Tyringham, chairman of the company, called a meeting in Newport to consider the provision of either a canal or a railway. 68 subscribers formed the Newport Pagnell Canal Company to build a canal from Linford Wharf to Newport Pagnell, with the possibility of extending it to Olney and Bedford. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1814 and work commenced in 1815. There was a drop of 50 feet from Great Linford to Newport Pagnell and the engineers had to construct six locks. The canal opened in 1817 and the main wharfage in the town, built on part of the former Green, became known as Shipley Wharf, after the mines at Shipley in Derbyshire, from where the narrow boats brought coal of much better quality than the Newport consumers had been used to. The canal was of value to the town if not to its shareholders. It was eventually purchased by the newly formed Newport Pagnell Railway Company which closed the canal on the 29th August 1864 and built a railway over part of the route but mainly close to. Much of Shipley Wharf remained and the former canal warehouses were served by sidings from the railway goods yard.
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