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

Navigable Rivers and Canals within Somerset

Saltford Lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal

Bath & Bristol Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed Somersetshire canal.

Waterway Description:

A proposed wide canal from the top of Bath Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal to Bristol. Never built.

History:

Surveyed by John Rennie in 1796 and 1810, authorised in 1811. No work was started.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole canal is in Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Runs from Taunton to Bridgwater Docks. The canal has been restored although there are several bridges which obstruct navigation and reduce the statutory headroom.

History:

Promoted under Acts of 1811 as the Bristol & Taunton Canal. In 1824 an Act passed to renew the powers under the 1811Act. Extension fom Huntworth and Bridgwater Dock construction promoted under an Act of 1837. Bridgwater Dock opened in 1841.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol & Taunton Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed Somerset canal.

Waterway Description:

A proposed waterway between Bristol and Taunton that was later to become the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

History:

The company followed from the Bristol & Western Canal project which was started in 1792 and became the Bristol & Taunton Canal in 1810. An Act was passed in 1811 but little or no work followed. In 1824 the company was reconstructed Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol & Western Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed Somerset canal.

Waterway Description:

A proposal for a 40 mile canal from the Avon at Morgasn's Pill, Bristol to Taunton.

History:

First proposed and surveyed in 1792. Never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol - Cirencester canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed canal from Somerset to Gloucestershire.

Waterway Description:

A proposed link between the Avon at Bristol and the Thames & Severn Canal near Cirencester.

History:

Promoted and surveyed in 1793 but never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol - Salisbury canal projects

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed canal from Somerset to Wiltshire.

Waterway Description:

Various proposals for canal links that were nver authorised or built.

History:

The schemes seem to have started in the canal mania of December 1792 and the last serious proposals recorded four years later.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol - Thames Head Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed canal from Somerset to Gloucestershire.

Waterway Description:

A proposed canal from Bristol to the Thames Head a rival to the Bristol - Cirencester Canal project.

History:

Promoted in 1793 but never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Bristol Junction Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed canal through Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Waterway Description:

A proposal by the Wilts & Berks company for a canal from their navigation near Malmsbury to the Gloucestershire coalfields around Pucklechurch and Coalpit Heath then on to Bristol.

History:

Proposed and surveyed in 1810, a Bill was introduced and withdrawn before the second reading in 1811. Never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Brown's Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The canal was entirely within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Was a 1 mile cut in Somerset from the River Brue to the North Drain.

History:

Used to carry silt for use as fertiliser.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Chard Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The canal was entirely within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

A 13.5-mile tub-boat canal, with inclined planes and 3 tunnels, from the Bridgewater and Taunton at Creech St. Michael to Chard.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1834, open to Ilminster in 1841 and to Chard in 1842. Closed in 1868.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Dorset & Somerset Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A canal from Dorset to Somerset that was not completed.

Waterway Description:

Work was started, but never finished, on an 8-mile branch of this canal, which was authorised to run from Blandford to the Kennet & Avon at Widbrooke near Bradford on Avon.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1796 but never opened.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

English & Bristol Channel canal schemes

Waterway's place in Somerset :

Various schemes for canals across Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Various schemes for linking the English & Bristol Channels that were proposed but never built.

History:

The first scheme started in 1768 when a group of from Taunton asked James Brindley to survey a route.The last scheme was originated by Thomas Telford in 1825 and was still being advocated as late as 1869.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

English & Bristol Channels Junction Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed tub boat canal across Somerset.

Waterway Description:

A propasal for a tub-boat canal from the River Tone, or from the Bristol & Taunton Canal 2 miles from Taunton, to Beer.

History:

Surveyed in 1821 it was estimated at a cost of 123,156. A Bill was introduced in February 1823 and withdrawn in April.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

English & Bristol Channels Ship Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed ship canal across Somerset.

Waterway Description:

From Stolford to Beer.

History:

Authorised in 1825 but no work carried out.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Galton's Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The canal was entirely within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Was a 1 mile 3 furlong cut from the River Brue, in Somerset, with one small lock.

History:

Built by Mr E Galton in about 1801 for the carriage of silt for fertiliser. abandoned in 1897.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Glastonbury Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The canal was entirely within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

A 14 mile 1 furlong canal, with 2 locks, from Glastonbury to its sea lock at Highbridge. Both locks were 64' x 18' 6" to take coasters.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1827, opened in 1833, abandoned in 1854 except for a short length at Highbridge which was abandoned in 1936.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Grand Western Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The canal originally ran from Tiverton in Devon to Taunton in Somerset. None of the Somerset part of the canal is still navigable.

Waterway Description:

Runs for 11.36 miles north-east of Tiverton. Open to unpowered and powered boats.

History:

Promoted under Acts of 1796, 1811 and 1812. Opened in 1814, Taunton extension opened in 1838. Abandoned from Lowdwells to Taunton in 1864 and from Lowdwells to Tiverton in 1962.In June 1971 ownership was transferred from British Waterways to Devon County Council.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Ivelchester & Langport Navigation

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole of the proposed navigation was to be within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

A mixture of canal and improved drains and river that was to run between Ilchester and Langport.

History:

Authorised in 1795 but little work was done on the river section.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Kennet and Avon Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

From Dundas Aqueduct, where the canal crosses into Somerset, to the end of the navigation at Hanham Lock No 1, where the navigation joins the Bristol Avon, the route is through Somerset for 16½ miles.

Waterway Description:

This recently restored navigation (re-opened by HM The Queen on 8 August 1990) runs 86.5 miles from High Bridge Reading, where it joins the River Thames, to Hanham Lock, where it joins the Bristol Avon.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1794, 1796, 1798, 1801, 1805, 1809 and 1813.fully completed when the Caen Hill Locks were finished on 28 December 1810. Bought by the Great Western Railway in 1852. In May 1950 a stoppage at Burghfield, near Reading, made the canal impassable. This was the last year that the whole canal was navigable before its restoration in 1990. In 1952 Caen Hill Locks at Devizes were impassable.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Avon (Bristol)

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole of this river is within Somerset and the City and County of Bristol.

Waterway Description:

Navigable from Hanham Lock, Bristol, (the junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal) to Avonmouth. The river is navigable for sea-going craft from Avonmouth to Bristol Docks.

History:

Made navigable following Acts of 1700, 1749, 1803, 1806, 1808 and 1809. Navigation between Hanham Mills and Bath opened in 1727.

Points of Interest:

There is a fast ebb run down towards Netham Dam after the highest spring tides opposite St Anne's Board Mills. Under the conditions it is essential to carry an anchor, so in an emergency craft are not swept onto the Dam.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Brue

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole navigation is within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

This tributary of the River Parrett is navigable for 1.5 miles to Highbridge

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Isle and Westport Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole navigation is within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

This 3.25 mile navigation is a tributary of the River Parrett.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Parrett

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole navigation is within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Runs 34 miles from Thorney Mills to the river mouth at Bridgwater Bar. The river is tidal for 27 miles up to Oath.

History:

Promoted by Acts of 1699, 1707, 1795 and 1804. Opened for navigation in 1840.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Tone

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole navigation was in Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Was a 11 mile 5 furlong, 4 lock, river navigation from Firepool Lock, four miles upstream from Taunton, to Burrow Bridge where it joined the River Parrett.

History:

Some of the river was made navigable around 1638, improvements authorised by Act of 1699 and 1707. Opened for Navigation in 1717. The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal Co. Bought the river in 1832. There was traffic on the river until 1929.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

River Yeo

Waterway's place in Somerset :

The whole navigation is within Somerset.

Waterway Description:

This tributary of the River Parrett is navigable for light craft for 8 miles from Ilchester to the Junction with the Parrett near Langport.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Somerset Coal Canal

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A mostly abandoned canal that is in Somerset.

Waterway Description:

Was a 17.75 mile, 23 lock, narrow canal from Paulton to Limpley Stoke where it joins the Kennet & Avon Canal.

History:

Authorised by an Act of 1794, opened in 1805, reduced to 10.5 miles when the Radstock line was converted to a tramway, closed in 1898, abandoned in 1904 although a short length at Limpley Stoke is still used as moorings.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

Taunton - Uphill Canal project

Waterway's place in Somerset :

A proposed Somerset canal.

Waterway Description:

A proposed canal to link the Grand Western Canal to the Bristol Channel and was a rival to the Bristol & Western Canal.

History:

First surveyed by Robert Whitworth in 1769 and revived in 1792 but never authorised or built.

For more details see the Waterway details page.

External Web Sites Related to Somerset Waterways

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Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
Features Contact me Glossary Boats Events List History Local Waterways Help Photo List