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Exeter Ship Canal

Description: Runs from Exeter Canal Basin, for just over 5 miles, to the River Exe estuary.

History: The oldest post Roman canal in England, started in 1563 under an Act passed in 1539. Opened in 1566. Major reconstruction of the canal was opened in 1701 and 1830 (following a further Act of 1829).

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

January 1539

The oldest post Roman canal in England, authorised by an Act.

January 1563

Work started.

January 1563

John Trew

He was engaged to make a canal alongside the River Exe for a fee of 225 and a share of the tolls. This was the first canal to be built in Britain since the Roman occupation.

January 1566

Opened.

January 1675

Richard Hurd

For a fee of 100 he throughly dredged the canal, extended it half a mile, so avoiding a mile of difficult river, and built a new transhipment basin and entrance with a pair of single gates that would take 60 ton craft. He also built a new weir at Exeter. The work continued into 1776.

January 1698

William Bayley

Agreed to deepen the canal to 14 feet to take seagoing craft.

May 1699

William Bayley

Absconded with some of the city's money, leaving the canal impassable.

January 1701

Major reconstruction of the canal was opened.

January 1818

James Green

He was asked to report on possible improvements to the canal.

October 1820

James Green

He made his report on the state of the canal and was asked to dredge and straighten the channel and to repair the Double Locks.

Late January 1821

James Green

He finished the dredging, straightening and repair work on the canal.

January 1824

James Green

He recommended that the canal should be extended 2 miles down the estuary to Turf so that craft drawing up to 12 feet could enter the canal on all tides.

January 1829

A further Act was passed for this, the oldest post Roman canal in England.

January 1830

Major reconstruction of the canal was opened.

January 1984

The Exeter Canal by Kenneth R Clew, Published by Phillimore & Co.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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