Haddlesey-Selby Canal and the ‘Lazy Cut’

In June 1774, the Aire & Calder Company secured an Act allowing them to construct a navigable canal from Haddlesey on the River Aire to the River Ouse. The canal opened in April 1778 and included an additional channel., which was called the “Lazy Cut”. This short ‘cut’ ran parallel to the river and ended in a dry dock, allowing vessels using the canal to unload their goods via crane directly onto vessels which were docked on the river. The “Lazy Cut” made it possible for boats traveling along the canal to be loaded or to unload cargo over the intervening bank and onto vessels going out to sea.


Sloops unloading coal at the Coal Wharf, c. 1970s.

Photo of sloops unloading coal at the Coal Wharf on the canal (c. 1970s)


c. June 1955

c. June 1955.


 The opening of the Knottingley-Goole canal and Goole docks in July 1826 had a heavy impact on Selby and its shipping trade. As a result, J. Audus of Selby decided to build a fleet of schooners meant to operate from Selby to Hull and beyond.


The leisure craft "Sabrina", a barge converted into a floating youth hostel, c. 1950s.

Leisure crafts had largely replaced commercial vessels on the canal by the 1950s. Pictured here is the leisure craft “Sabrina”, a barge which was converted into a floating youth hostel.


Sabrina W at Selby

The UK’s only floating hostel, former grain barge Sabrina W, moored on the canal at Selby. It opened in the 1960s and remained in operation until 1983.


A narrow boat passing by "Sabrina", 1960s.

A “narrow boat” passing by “Sabrina” (early 1960s).


Canal Road, Selby, c. 1920

Weed cutting along Canal Road in Selby (c. 1920).


Water Bailiff Beswick on the canal

Water Bailiff Beswick on the canal. Historically, water bailiffs were Customs house officials in charge of inspecting the vessels entering a port.


The “Lazy Cut”

A sloop at the end of the "Lazy Cut", c. 1880s

A sloop in the dry-dock, located at the southern end of the canal’s “Lazy Cut” (c. 1880s).


1893 map of the "Lazy Cut" and old dry dock.

An 1893 map of the “Lazy Cut” and old dry dock.


"Lazy Cut", c. 1910

“Lazy Cut” (c. 1910).


Lazy Cut

The Lazy Cut was a short arm leading off the canal at Selby with the river lock nearby. This was were cargoes were able to be moved between ships and barges, so that barges did not have to go out into the river. The Lazy Cut was built in the 18th century when the canal opened but fell into disuse after 1826 as the Goole began to develop. Soon after, the small boatyard site closed and the stretch of water was closed off and used for retting flax.


Map of "Lazy Cut", 1908

Map of the “Lazy Cut” (1908).


Photos and information from Selby: The Industrial Past – Roland Chilvers and The Yorkshire Ouse Navigation – Mike Taylor.

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