John Hassell (1767 – 1825) was a Georgian artist, illustrator, author and publisher earning his living principally by producing what would now be termed a travel guide book. The guides of which he was the author and illustrator were an indispensible introduction to many of the great popular scenic sites in the British Isles which were there to be enjoyed by Regency society.
My battered but much treasured copy of his ‘Tour of the Grand Junction Canal’ is a large paper copy with the original paper name plate which unfortunately lacks 7 of the original illustrations.Nevertheless the missing plates seem to be of the London area and are I think mostly of views other than the canal. As all the ‘up country ‘ views of the canal are present I am not too bothered about it.
The book was published in 1819 soon after the canal was opened throughout. Priced at £1 with uncoloured plates and £1.10shillings coloured. Today it sells for £500 - £1500.
Grove Lock ?
Batchworth Lock at Rickmansworth.
Regarding Blisworth tunnel ‘Hassell states that Mr Barnes of Banbury who was engaged as surveyor and who superintended and completed the tunnel was ‘strong minded but very illiterate’. He made all his calculations by ‘the strength of his memory’ and was at a loss to explain any of this to anyone else. Also ‘from being lowly educated he had no means of conveying to paper his designs, yet would cast up the most intricate accounts in his head without difficulty;.
Today 200 years later the tunnel is busier than ever. Not bad for a ‘lowly educated man’. More Pictures next time.