History of the Bridgwater & 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 the canal reopened fully in 1994. Bridgwater Docks are owned by Sedgemoor District Council and used as a marina. In Taunton it is possible to connect with the River Tone (navigable for about 1 mile) via Firepool Lock.
Photo: Moored boats at Bridgwater Docks on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal by Stefanie Preston.