The Stroudwater Navigation
is a canal
to the Severn Estuary
in England and Wales. It was authorised in 1776, although part had already been built, as the Proprietors thought that an Act of Parliament obtained in 1730 gave them the necessary powers. It opened in 1779, and was a commercial success, its main cargo being coal. It was in length and had a rise of through 12 locks. Following the opening of the Thames and Severn Canal
in 1789, it formed part of a through route from Bristol
, although much of this trade vanished when the Kennet and Avon Canal
provided a more direct route in 1810. Despite competition from the railways, the canal continued to pay dividends to shareholders until 1922, and was not finally abandoned until 1954.
Even before it closed, there was interest in retaining the canal for its amenity value. In 1972, the Stroudwater Canal Society, which later became the Cotswold Canals Trust, was formed, and following initial hostility from the Proprietors, who had not been stripped of their powers when the canal had closed, agreement was reached and work began on restoration of the waterway. The project gained popularity, and in 2003, a bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £82 million to restore both the Stroudwater and the Thames and Severn Canal. The project had to be split into smaller parts, and only the first phase has been funded in this way, when a grant of £11.9 million was confirmed in... Read More