By the beginning of the 18th century Huddersfield had become a "considerable town," chiefly owing to the manufacture of woollen kersies, and towards the end of the same century the trade was increased by two events - the opening of navigation on the Calder in 1780, and in 1784 that of the cloth-hall or piece-hall, built and given to the town by Sir John Ramsden, baronet.
The latter's uncle, George Leather, was engineer of the Great Aire and Calder Navigation Company, of the Goole Docks, and other similar works, and Fowler passed occasionally into his employment, in which he acquired a thorough knowledge of hydraulic engineering.
It has communication with Liverpool by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and with Goole and the Humber by the Aire and Calder Navigation.
The main line of the Aire and Calder navigation runs from Goole by Castleford to Leeds, whence the Leeds and Liverpool canal, running by Burnley and Blackburn, completes the connexion between the Humber and the Mersey.
In the face of railway competition, several of the canals maintain a fair traffic in coal, for which they are eminently suitable - the system of the Birmingham navigation, the Aire and Calder navigation of Yorkshire, and the Leeds and Liverpool navigation have the largest.