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Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Description: Runs from Chelmsford Basin to Heybridge Sea Lock at the mouth of the Blackwater.

History: Promoted under Acts of 1766 and 1793. Opened in 1797.

Points of Interest: In dry seasons water is very limited and strict limits are placed on the use of locks.

See Priestley's Navigable Rivers and Canals for more information.

January 1677

Andrew Yarranton

In his book England's Improvement by Land and Sea he recorded the results of his survey and estimated a cost of 8,000 to make the river navigable.

13th July 1733

John Hore

He started his survey of the navigation and later recommended the building of a canal for the estimated cost of 12,870 against the 9,355 he estimated was needed to make the river navigable.

January 1762

John Smeaton

He carried out a survey and estimated the cost of a navigation as 16,697.

January 1762

Thomas Yeoman

He did a survey and estimate for the navigation.

19th June 1764

Thomas Yeoman

The following extract from his letter to John Smeaton demonstrates the difficulties he had with the navigation promoters:
. . . Now Suppose I should tell you that I am not paid for what I have done will you believe me and if I should add that the under Sheriff took it in his head two Days to attend the Survey with Company and order'd provision & to the Water Sides, lay all night at Danbury at my Inn, and left me to pay every thing even so much as his and his friends Corn and Hay for their Horses, will you give credence to it? but so it is my Friend and so it must be, until they take it in their Heads to pay; Should not I charge two Years Interest in September next? . . .
I beg that my best wishes be acceptable to Mrs Smeaton, Children and Self and am with sincerity
Dear Sir
Your most obedient and obliged humble Servt
Thos Yeoman.

January 1765

John Smeaton

He was asked to prepare proposals for the navigation but was too busy to accept.

January 1765

John Grundy

He was asked to prepare proposals for the navigation but was too busy to accept.

January 1765

Thomas Yeoman

He produced another plan which was used in the application for a Bill to parliament and estimated the cost as 13,000. He proposed widening the river to 30 feet at the surface and 20 feet at the bottom with a depth of 4 feet and locks 70 feet long and 14 feet wide.

January 1765

Langley Edwards

Was approached to prepare a scheme in opposition to Thomas Yeoman's plan for the river but was too busy to take on the work.

January 1765

Joseph Nickalls

He was asked to prepare proposals for the navigation but was too busy to accept.

January 1765

Ferdinando Stratford

He and his brother were retained by Maldon objectors to the navigation. They both contracted ague and fever on the survey from which he died.

January 1765

William Stratford

He and his brother were retained by Maldon objectors to the navigation. They both contracted ague and fever on the survey from which he was ill for a year before he recovered..

January 1766

Promoted under an Act.

January 1792

John Rennie

Charles Wedge surveyed a line to Heybridge Basin under his direction.

January 1792

Charles Wedge

He surveyed a line to Heybridge Basin under the direction of John Rennie.

January 1793

Promoted under an Act.

January 1793

John Rennie

Matthew Hall carried out a survey of the canal under his direction.

January 1793

Richard Coates

Controlled the construction of the navigation, a task that he carried out on behalf of John Rennie to whom he was an assistant.

January 1793

Matthew Hall

He surveyed the route under John Rennie's direction.

January 1793

Benjamin Henry Latrobe

He recommended the deepening and straightening of the Blackwater as far as Fullbridge.

July 1793

John Rennie

Richard Coates started work on the construction of the navigation under his direction.

January 1794

Benjamin Henry Latrobe

He builds on his earlier report and suggests improvements of the Blackwater upstream to its junction with the Chelmer.

January 1797

Opened.

25th May 1799

John Rennie

Following complaints about shoals appearing after every flood he surveyed the navigation. In his report of 5th June he offers to contribute his time to rectify defects in the navigation.

25th November 1805

John Rennie

Following complaints of water loss from millers at Moulsham, Barnes, Sandford, Little Baddow, Paper and Hoe he did a survey and reccomended improvements costing 4,918.

January 1993

Barging into Chelmsford by John Marriage, Published by Ian Henry Publications Ltd - History, traffic and an update of the waterway.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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