The Poo Trade -
Mike Clarke's brief history of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal makes the following statement:
The short distance indicates that muck was being exported from towns to the local countryside. Prior to the introduction of the activated sludge sewage treatment method in 1913, towns and cities would deal with human waste (poo) by drying it, and exporting it as manure to local farmlands.
Also, until Bertha Benz stole her husband's contraption in 1888 and drove it to her mum's house, nobody had considered the motorised carriage a sensible way of getting about. In towns, people moved about by horse drawn carriage, and the waste produced by horses also had to be disposed of.
Corporation wharfs, alongside the destructors would dump manure mixed with ash from the destructors into the boats which would then be taken to the countryside and offloaded... by hand. Would you like to do that job?
The short distance travelled by manure is not unusual One of the most important aspects of the canal, outlined in the original prospectus, was that it made it easy for local communities to trade with each other. The canal was used in much the same way that we use motorways today. You can drive the whole length, but you’re just as likely to drive from one town to the next.