Record Details

NHER Number:13534
Type of record:Monument
Name:North Walsham and Dilham Canal

Summary

This important artificial waterway linked North Walsham to the River Ant at Dilham. The idea to build it seems to have originated as a means of avoiding the fairly high cost of transporting goods on the newly opened toll road between North Walsham and Norwich. It was also seen as an opportunity to improve turnover at a number of mills along the River Ant. Although the idea to build a canal was decided on, mainly by local landowners, in 1811, and an Act of Parliament authorizing its construction was passed in 1812, the canal was only completed in mid-1826 at a cost of £32,000. Once completed, the system allowed goods to travel from Antingham, via the River Bure, to Great Yarmouth (and of course back). The canal was ten miles long, dug by hand by a labour force of about a hundred men, and lined with clay. A special cut ('Tyler's Cut') was made in Dilham to access a brickworks there (NHER 15890).

However, the canal itself was narrow, only able to take boats up to twelve tons, and it soon became clear that the volume of trade was too small to be profitable. Even if the volume had been higher, the water supply (from the upper reaches of the River Ant) would not have been sufficient to replace the water let through the locks. Also the advent of the railway and improved roads meant that, in a short period of time, cheaper and more efficient transport systems were available.

After various changes in ownership, the canal fell into disuse in the 1920s. Of the five mills along its course, Antingham (NHER 15854), Bacton Wood (NHER 11572), Ebridge (NHER 11730) Briggate (NHER 8206) and Dilham (NHER 15892) only Ebridge continued to trade (by road, not using the canal) and now even this has pretty much closed down.

Images

  • Dilham and North Walsham canal showing Bacton Wood Lock  © Norfolk County Council

Location

Grid Reference:TG 3086 2862
Map Sheet:TG32NW
Parish:ANTINGHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
DILHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK
NORTH WALSHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Begun 1825. Now mostly abandoned.
Bridges, locks remain.
See details, press cuttings (S1) to (S10) and photograph (S11) in file.
E. Rose (NAU), 24 November 1986.

Duplicate prints from an important set of photographs taken of the canal in 1956 are in file (S12).

This important artificial waterway linked North Walsham to the River Ant at Dilham. The idea to build it seems to have originated as a means of avoiding the fairly high cost of transporting goods on the newly opened toll road between North Walsham and Norwich. It was also seen as an opportunity to improve turnover at a number of mills along the River Ant. Although the idea to build a canal was decided on, mainly by local landowners, in 1811, and an Act of Parliament authorizing its construcion was passed in 1812, the canal was only completed in mid-1826 at a cost of £32,000. Once completed, the system allowed goods to travel from Antingham, via the River Bure, to Great Yarmouth (and of course back). The canal was ten miles long, dug by hand by a labour force of about a hundred men, and lined with clay. A special cut ('Tyler's Cut') was made in Dilham to access a brickworks there (NHER 15890).

However, the canal itself was narrow, only able to take boats up to twelve tons, and it soon became clear that the volume of trade was too small to be profitable. Even if the volume had been higher, the water supply (from the upper reaches of the River Ant) would not have been sufficient to replace the water let through the locks. Also the advent of the railway and improved roads meant that, in a short period of time, cheaper and more efficient transport systems were available.

After various changes in ownership, the canal fell into disuse in the 1920s. Of the five mills along its course, Antingham (NHER 15854), Bacton Wood (NHER 11572), Ebridge (NHER 11730) Briggate (NHER 8206) and Dilham (NHER 15892) only Ebridge continued to trade (by road, not using the canal) and now even this has pretty much closed down.
P. Aldridge (NLA), 26 June 2006.

January 2007. Norfolk NMP.
Notes on Norfolk’s World War Two defences (S13) record that sections of the canal were deepened to form an anti-tank ditch. Where this is visible on aerial photographs (as banks of dredged material, for example) it has been recorded as NHER 38818, 45232, 45233, 49213, 49212 and 49211.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 3 January 2007.

Monument Types

  • BRIDGE (Post Medieval to Modern - 1826 AD to 2050 AD)
  • CANAL (Post Medieval to Modern - 1826 AD to 2050 AD)
  • LOCK (Post Medieval to Modern - 1826 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished document: Transco/Network Archaeology. 2002. Network Archaeology Report No. 179. Bacton to Kings Lynn Proposed Gas Pipeline. Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment..
---Website: Baker, K.. 2006. http://www.canals.btinternet.co.uk/canals/northwalshamdilham.htm.
---Monograph: Russell, R.. 1982. Lost Canals and Waterways of Britain..
---Photograph: 1989. Honing Bridge. Print.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Protest halts canal work. 25 April.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1981. New bridges for Dilham Canal. 19 November. 2.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1982. Royal Touch For Rebuilt Bridge Over Dilham Canal. 31 March.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Clash over canal use. 31 January.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Dilham canal's future in the balance. 23 January.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Photograph of Bacton Wood Staithe in 1912. 27 February.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Waterway may flow again for sail and nature. 11 October.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Protection pledged for canal that time forgot. 12 October.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. Way forward for canal plan (letter to the editor). 5 February.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. Quiet revolution scheme for canal. 6 November.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. [unknown]. Canal project glides on at a delicate pace. [unknown].
<S11>Photograph: BVA 12 (Ebridge Lock).
<S12>Photograph: Ward, J. O.. 1956. 230 to 1, 234 to 7, 239 to 42.
<S13>Unpublished document: ?. ?. Defence Notes, derived from 'Old Maps in County Hall' IN Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society military defence file.

Related records

49212Parent of: Site of World War Two anti tank defences along the North Walsham to Dilham canal (Monument)
49213Parent of: Site of World War Two anti tank defences along the North Walsham to Dilham canal (Monument)
45233Parent of: Site of World War Two anti tank defences along the North Walsham to Dilham canal (Monument)
45232Parent of: Site of World War Two anti tank defences along the North Walsham to Dilham canal (Monument)
49211Parent of: Site of World War Two anti tank defences, North Walsham to Dilham canal (Monument)
38818Parent of: Site of World War Two anti-tank barrier (Monument)

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