The Tattershall Canal, also known as Gibson’s Cut was a short 1 mile (1.5km) privately built waterway, with one lock, constructed in the 1780s and linked the village of Tattershall to the Witham Navigation. This gave rise to proposals to make the River Bain, a tributary of the Witham that flows through both Horncastle and Tattershall, navigable. In the event, an entirely artificial waterway, the Horncastle Canal was built and opened in 1802. The Tattershall Canal was purchased as part of the project and incorporated into the Horncastle Canal. There were eleven locks (for boats maximum size 54′ x 14’4″ ad 3′ 6″ draught). Initially, the canal was a moderate success, but trade evaporated to railway competition in the 1850s and 1860s, and the last boat to arrive at Horncastle left in 1878, and by 1889 the canal was reported as defunct.
Most of the line of the Canal remains remarkably intact and in water, with few obstructions, and public footpaths along parts. IWA Lincolnshire Branch proposed restoration in the 1990s and there was some local authority support with Lincolnshire County Council offering funding towards a feasibility study. After some delay in raising the matching funding, the study was produced in 2005 and showed that restoration was feasible, but would cost between about £20 to £25 million (at 2005 prices). With restoration emphasis in the county on the Fenland Link, no further progress of substance appears to have been made, and hopes of restoration have now faded. The photo shows the remains of the town wharf in Horncastle.