Norfolk

North Walsham and Dilham canal to be refilled with water

The ruined lock gate at Bacton Wood Image copyright North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust
Image caption Bacton Wood lock was in ruins before volunteers began restoration work

A 19th Century waterway that is thought to have been dry for more than half a century is to be refilled with water.

The North Walsham and Dilham canal is Norfolk's only sailing canal with locks.

It was originally nearly nine miles (14.5km) long but became neglected after falling out of commercial use in the 1930s.

Restoration work by volunteers has seen one mile (1.6km) mile of the canal opened for navigation.

A three-quarter mile section of the privately-owned canal is soon to be refilled with water.

Image copyright North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust
Image caption A three quarters of a mile section of the disused canal between Pigneys Wood and Bacton Wood lock is soon to have water once again

The re-watering will take place in two parts, with the first from Pigneys Wood to a bund downstream of Royston Bridge.

After testing the banks are stable, the bund will be removed and the second stage of work will begin.

It is expected to take about five hours to refill the first section to a depth of 4ft (120cm), and work is weather-dependent.

Image copyright North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust
Image caption Restoration work by volunteers has opened up a section of the canal for navigation, and about 2.7 miles (4.3km) for walkers

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust was formed in 2008.

It hopes to restore seven and a half miles (12km) and four of the canal's six original locks.

The lock gates at Bacton Wood have been replaced and final repair work is now being carried out to the banks.

The history of the canal:

  • Building work began in 1825, with 100 navvies from Bedfordshire
  • The canal opened in 1826
  • It stretches from Antingham Ponds, north west of North Walsham, to Wayford Bridge, north west of Stalham
  • The canal was used by wherries to carry cargo to and from mills and communities along its route
  • The last wherry, Ella, sailed the canal in 1934
  • One family and three companies own different sections of the canal

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