Dorset and Somerset Canal


Dorset and Somerset Canal
Dorset and Somerset Canal
{{{alt}}}
The north face of Murtry aqueduct
Date of act 1796
Date completed not completed
Start point Nettlebridge
End point Frome junction
Locks 0
Status Abandoned, not completed
[v · d · e]Dorset and Somerset Canal plan
Legend
Unknown BSicon "uJUNCld" Urban track turning from right
Bristol Channel
Unknown BSicon "uSTRfr"
Bristol
Waterway turning to left Urban track turning from right
Unknown BSicon "uSTRfr"
Bath
Waterway turning to left
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRlg" + Urban transverse track
Jn with Kennet and Avon Canal
Unknown BSicon "uFEATURE" Unknown BSicon "uFEATURE" Planned waterway
Coleford and Mells
Unknown BSicon "uLBASINl" Unknown BSicon "uLSTRq" Unknown BSicon "uLSTRq" Unknown BSicon "uLJUNCrd"
Nettlebridge basin and Frome Jn
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRfr"
Wincanton
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRfr"
Stalbridge
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRfr"
Sturminster Newton
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRfr"
Blandford
Unknown BSicon "uLBASINl" Unknown BSicon "uLJUNCrd"
Wareham branch
Start of large dock/flash/lake
Poole Harbour
Diagram showing the arrangement of Fussell's boat lift

The Dorset and Somerset Canal was a proposed canal in the south west of England. The main line was intended to link Poole, in Dorset with the Kennet and Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. A branch was to go from the main line at Frome to the southern reaches of the Somerset coalfield at Nettlebridge. Construction of the branch started in 1786, using boat lifts rather than locks to cope with changes of level, but the company ran out of money, and the canal was abandoned in 1803, never to be completed.

Contents

Proposals

Plans for a major canal to link Bristol and Poole, and therefore to make travel from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel easier and safer, were proposed in 1792. The suggested route passed through Wareham, Sturminster Newton, Wincanton and Frome, joining the River Avon at Bath. Collieries in the Mendips near Nettlebridge were to be served by a branch canal, while the main trade was seen as coal travelling southwards and clay travelling northwards. A public meeting was held in Wincanton in January 1793, at which a list of subscribers was started.[1]

There were several proposals as to the precise route, and so the canal engineer Robert Whitworth was asked to survey a route. By the time he reported back in September 1793, the route started from the Kennet and Avon Canal at Freshford near Limpley Stoke, rather than Bath, and having passed through Stalbridge, headed for Blandford rather than Wareham. The new route reflected the availability of water to supply the canal. Whitworth was busy and recommended that the projectors of the scheme should employ William Bennet of Frome as engineer. Bennet completed a detailed survey in 1795, estimating that the cost of the canal would be about £200,000, and the projectors approved most of his plan at a meeting in July. Short branches to Hamworthy and Wareham were added to the scheme, and the proposed junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal was later moved to Widford.[2]

By the time parliamentary approval was sought, the southern end had been cut back to Shillingstone, to reduce the cost, and an Act of Parliament was obtained on 24 March 1796, giving the company powers to raise £150,000, with an additional £75,000 if required. However, with the social changes and inflation that was occurring at the time, less than £80,000 was raised. With this, the company decided to start with the branch to Frome,[3] in order to capitalise on the lucrative markets in the coal fields and the clothing industry in Frome.

Construction

[v · d · e]Dorset and Somerset Canal
Legend
Unknown BSicon "uLSTRrg" Unknown BSicon "uLBASINr"
Nettlebridge basin
Planned waterway
Unwatered canal
Stratton Common
Unknown BSicon "ugKRZun"
Edford bridge
Unknown BSicon "ugSTRfr"
Edford
Unknown BSicon "xgKRZo"
Coleford aqueduct
Unknown BSicon "ugSTRfr"
Coleford
Unknown BSicon "uLTUNNEL1"
unfinished tunnel at Goodeaves Farm
Unknown BSicon "ugSTRfr"
Vobster
Unwatered canal
Unknown BSicon "ugPLANEu"
Barrow Hill boat lift
Planned waterway
Five more lifts planned
Unknown BSicon "xgKRZo"
Murtry aqueduct
Planned waterway
Unknown BSicon "uLJUNCe"
Frome Jn (with main line)

Construction began on the branch line, and about 8 miles (13 km) of canal was built, from Stratton Common towards Frome, passing through Coleford and Vobster.[4] The works included the three-arched Murtry Aqueduct over the Mells River near Hapsford,[5] a smaller aqueduct at Vallis Vale, near Coleford, and a tunnel at Goodeaves Farm, which was not completed.[4]

Both the main line and the branch involved significant changes in level, and the act had specified that conventional locks would be used on the main line, but that "caissons" would be used on the branch, which rose by 264 ft (80.5m) over its length. The idea of using vertical boat lifts was proposed by James Fussell,[6] owner of the nearby Mells ironworks, and his particular design was patented in 1798. It consisted of two tanks, joined by chains which passed over large wheels. Boats entered one or both of the caissons, which each had an extra chamber below the main caisson, and the chamber of the top caisson was filled with water to provide the extra weight needed to cause the lift to operate. Although different in detail to those later used successfully on the Grand Western Canal, it was essentially very similar.[7]

Fussell built the first boat lift at Barrow Hill. It was designed to take 10-ton boats, lifting them by 20 feet (6.1 m), and was tested during September and October 1800.[8] It was formally demonstrated on 13 October 1800,[9] and the Bath Chronicle carried a glowing report 3 days later.[10]

Five more lifts were to be built on the Barrow Hill section, and works started on the pits for four of them, but the company ran out of money in 1802, with 1.7 miles (2.7 km) of canal still to be excavated and the boat lifts unfinished. Having consulted an engineer called Underhill, the company obtained a second act of parliament in 1803, to allow them to raise more money and to build railways instead of the canal if this would reduce the cost, but they were unable to raise any more finance.[8] Construction ceased in 1803, and the canal was never completed.[11]

The canal today

Several features are still visible including a bridge that once carried the Edford to Stratton Common road over the canal[12] and an aqueduct at Coleford, with two semi-circular arches nearly 33 feet (10 m) across and a similar height.[13] The boat lift at Barrow Hill was the site of archaeological excavations in 2007.[14] The three-arched aqueduct over the River Mells at Murtry Bottom still have some 56 feet (17 m) of retaining wall attached to it.[5] A project to consider how best to conserve it has been aided by a grant from the Somerset Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund.[15]



See also

Moore Bridge.jpg UK Waterways portal

Bibliography

  • Atthill, Robin (1964). Old Mendip. Newton Abbott: David and Charles. ISBN 0715351710. 
  • Dunning, Robert (1983). A History of Somerset. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-461-6. 
  • Hadfield, Charles (1967). The Canals of South West England. David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-4176-6. 
  • Toulson, Shirley (1984). The Mendip Hills: A Threatened Landscape. London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 057503453X. 

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Somerset — This article is about the county of Somerset in England. For other uses, see Somerset (disambiguation). Somerset Motto of County Council: Sumorsǣte ealle ( All The People of Somerset ) …   Wikipedia

  • Somerset — Para otros usos de este término, véase Somerset (desambiguación). Somerset Condado de Inglater …   Wikipedia Español

  • Somerset Coal Canal — The Somerset Coal Canal (originally known as the Somersetshire Coal Canal) was a narrow canal in England, built around 1800 from basins at Paulton and Timsbury via Camerton, an aqueduct at Dunkerton, Combe Hay, Midford and Monkton Combe to… …   Wikipedia

  • Somerset coalfield — The Somerset coalfield included pits in the north Somerset, England, area where coal was mined from the 15th century until 1973.It is part of a wider field which covered northern Somerset and southern Gloucestershire in England. It stretched from …   Wikipedia

  • Dorset — Para otros usos de este término, véase Dorset (desambiguación). Dorset Condado del Reino Un …   Wikipedia Español

  • Somerset — /sum euhr set , sit/, n. 1. a city in SE Massachusetts. 18,813. 2. a town in S Kentucky. 10,649. 3. Somersetshire. * * * I Administrative (pop., 2001: 498,093), geographic, and historic county, southwestern England. Its county seat is Taunton.… …   Universalium

  • Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway — Overview Type Heavy rail Status Disused Locale …   Wikipedia

  • Somerset — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Somerset (homonymie) et Comté de Somerset. Somerset Administration Statut …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dorset Regiment — The Dorset Regiment Badge of the Dorset Regiment (1953 1958) Active 1881 1958 Country …   Wikipedia

  • History of Somerset — Somerset is an historic county in the south west of England. There is evidence of human occupation since prehistoric times with hand axes and flint points from the Palaeolithic, and a range of burial mounds, hill forts and other artifacts dating… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.