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This plan covers part of the English Midland plateau. The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is depicted down the left side. Opened for traffic in May 1772, the canal was built by engineer James Brindley as part of his 'Grand Cross', a far-sighted scheme to link the ports of Hull, Liverpool and Bristol by connecting the rivers Mersey, Trent and Severn. Work on a second waterway, the Birmingham Canal, started a year later to facilitate the transport of coal from the pits of the Black Country to Birmingham. The Industrial Revolution saw over 180 miles of canals and 216 locks built. Part of this network is visible on the plan highlighted in blue.
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This drawing is attributed to Robert Dawson. Different shades of green are employed to distinguish different land uses, and darker tones to describe the bold undulation of the landscape. Birmingham is depicted top left, at the centre of a network of toll roads and canals. Prominently featured on the plan is the Grand Junction Canal. This waterway was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution in this region at the beginning of the 19th century, carrying raw materials to mills and industrial centres, and finished goods to markets throughout Britain.