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The Selby Canal is a 6-mile (9.7 km) canal with 2 locks which bypasses the lower reaches of the River Aire in Yorkshire, England, from the village of West Haddlesey to the town of Selby where it joins the River Ouse.
An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1774 by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, to head off another proposal for a 23-mile (37 km) canal linking Leeds directly to Selby and thus bypassing the Aire altogether. The company employed the engineers John Smeaton and William Jessop and the canal was opened in 1776 at a cost of £20,000. As a result, the town of Selby flourished, with a custom house which enabled traffic to proceed straight to the North Sea without stopping at Hull. However, the depth of the canal was only 3 ft 6 in and as cargoes increased the canal became too shallow for the larger barges.
In 1826, a new and much larger cut was made from Knottingley through to Goole and this spelled the end of the prosperity of the canal. A new Act of Parliament was obtained in 1828 to widen and deepen the canal and a new lock was installed into the River Ouse, but traffic effectively ended with the coming of the railway in 1870.
Today it is used almost entirely by leisure boats, forming an easier route to York than the alternatives via Goole or Trent Falls. It takes boats of length 24.4 m, beam 5.1 m, draught 1.2 m and air draught 2.45 m.