The Lune Aqueduct is often referred to as one of the "wonders of the waterways" and is a masterpiece of civil engineering. It carries the canal 664 feet across the River Lune at a height of 61 feet (53 feet above the normal water level in the river).
It was designed by John Rennie and constructed by Alexander Stevens using traditional bridge building techniques. The structure consists of five semi-circular arches, each spanning seventy feet and amazingly, the supporting piers rest on piles of specially imported Russian timbers driven deep into the bed of the river. Wood, it seems, does not rot when permanently wet.
The piers themselves were of hollow construction, built in stone and strengthened by iron bars. When completed, the hollow centres were filled in with rubble. Huge coffer dams held back the river and the water was pumped out using primitive steam engines. Wooden scaffolding was used to support the structure of wedge shaped stones. These formed the masonry arches until each of the final keystones was in place.
The trough carrying the 20 foot wide canal over the aqueduct is now made of concrete but old drawings show that it was originally made of stone. Its curving side walls were 18 inches thick and the bottom was 1 foot deep with 3 feet of puddled clay to make it watertight.
An inscription on the upstream face of the aqueduct reads:-
"To Public Prosperity"
The downstream side bears a Latin inscription, translated as:-
"Old needs are served, far distant sites combined. Rivers by art to bring new wealth are joined".
Work started in 1794 and was completed in 1797 at a cost of £48,321. This amount exceeded the original estimate (of £18,619) to such an extent that a corresponding aqueduct over the River Ribble was never built.