About the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal runs from the River Tone at Taunton to Bridgwater. The canal is 13.5 miles (21.7km) long with 7 locks. It opened in 1827 and together with the Grand Western Canal are the remains of Brindley’s project to bypass the tricky sea passage around Land’s End. Both the canals were linked in 1838 with a tub-boat canal having seven vertical locks and an inclined plane. Railway competition and high operating costs caused closure in 1867. The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal connected to the River Tone at Huntworth, to the east of Bridgwater, but this proved inadequate; the canal was extended to a new floating harbour with two basins and two river locks in 1841.
The last commercial traffic along the canal was in 1907 but Bridgwater Docks remained in use until 1971. The channel was maintained to supply the docks and from 1962 drinking water to Durleigh reservoir. Restoration began in the mid 1970s and, after a long campaign by IWA, the canal reopened fully in 1994. Bridgwater Docks are owned by Somerset Council (inherited from Sedgemoor District Council in April 2023) and until June 2021 the docks were leased to Canal & River Trust. On termination of the lease Sedgemoor District Council insisted that Vacant Possession meant that there should be no boats in the docks – so all the boats previously moored there were moved onto the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal prior to the lease being terminated. It is therefore not possible to enter the docks with a boat at the moment.
Photo: Moored boats in Bridgwater Docks (prior to termination of Canal & River Trust’s lease) by Stefanie Preston.