The Cragg family diary contains the following quote "Lancaster canal which was opened on the 22nd of November (1797) and since that time several large loads of coals and cannel have been brought to Lancaster and Galgate from Savok a little below Preston."
The Record Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, in Volume 142 contains an interesting article on the Cragg family (together with a full transcription of the diary). In it the word "Savok" is presumed to mean "Salwick, five miles west of Preston." This seems unlikely; the old maps and records often give the name "Savick" brook as "Savock/Savok".
Whatever the meaning, the quote is intriguing. Why not use the wharves in the centre of Preston? In the "The old tram road: Walton Summit to Preston Basin" by Steven Barritt it is obvious that the tram road wasn't completed until 1804 so a different method had to be used to move coal from the Wigan coal fields through to Preston and onwards to Lancaster & Kendal. The traditional method was to to use the Douglas Navigation (ie the River Douglas) and down to the River Ribble.
In "Canals of North West England" by Hadfield & Biddle there is a comment on page 189 stating that coal was "carted down to the Douglas and so taken that way to Preston; there it had to be labouriously carted again up to the North End". A further comment states "In 1796 and 1797 various proposals were considered for a short branch canal from Salwick or the North End to Savock followed by an inclined plane down to the Ribble or alternatively a tram road a tram road from the canal at Tulketh, the idea being to exchange traffic with the Douglas. The Leeds and Liverpool agreed to improve the Douglas but the Lancaster was unable to finance their work."
The National Canal Museum at Ellesmere has a "mersey flat" dating from the 1850's. Something similar, and probably smaller, was no doubt used to transport coal down the Douglas. It could then be transferred to a more stable boat for the journey across or along the Ribble. In the "Lancashire Local Historian - No 16" there is an article covering the development of the Douglas. In it there is the comment that flats were hauled by men - not horses - at least in the early days. They were paid between 8d and 12d a day.
The modern view (taken from Mario Maps) shows the changes made when the Millennium link was put in. The northern section was the original line of the brook. There are at least two tracks going to the north towards Back Lane. Goodier bridge has all the features of a canal bridge.
This is the earliest OS map from the late 1840's. The footpath from Goodier bridge still exists but there is quite a steep slope - so not an obvious route for the coal. The two tracks to the west would be more likely as the high tide would reach there earlier.
.This, most detailed map, is from the 1890's. High water mark is shown near Goodier Bridge - anywhere to the west of this point would be possible.
So, at least in the early days of the canal, Savick brook was used as a way of getting coal on to the canal barges for transport up to and beyond Lancaster. The saving in distance between this point and the wharf in Ashton is a couple of kilometres - at least half an hour in time for the coal flats. The difference along the canal between Shelley road and Lea Town would be about 4 miles. More than an hour in time.
The map below has the fieldnames added. Interestingly 107 is called "Road" with the Owner as John Smith and occupier as Thomas Mitchell.
In this tithe map (from 1838) the track from the brook almost looks like the main track as opposed to the one coming from Back Lane.
The 1840's and 1890's map show slightly different HW marks but the main criteria is that track should be as close to the canal as possible.
The above view shows the track as it reaches Back Lane in Lea Town. From the brook via this route there is a little less than 1 mile to the nearest point on the canal.
Looking from the other side ie Savick Brook side we see something equally fascinating.
Other possibilities include taking the coal on flats further up the Ribble and then transporting the coal to the wharf near Shelley road. In a letter dated March 1798, William Cartwright mentions problems with the Tulketh cut but it should be ready in the next month. This was found in "Transcripts of Reports on Lancaster Canal 1790-1800" by R.W.G. Bryant.
The question that should be asked is "Why is the basin there?". Most basins in the main part of the canal are just a bulge in the waterway; sufficient for turning around a barge. Timings for the construction of the aqueduct section of the canal would help pinpoint a reason.
The above photo shows the entrance to the wharf/basin. Now full of pleasure craft the basin looks like
An obvious track leads up from the Tulketh Brow roundabout. An alternative would be pass underneath the Canal cottages.
DDHO 486 contains, on page 7, the words an agreement for new road between clifton & lea - mentions "indemnified against charges for the purpose of wharfages, landing coal, limestones & other stone slate, timber...". It is dated 1/5/1781 and needs photographing. It isn't obvious if the wharfages refers to the Ribble or Savick Brook.