The Stroudwater Navigation

Cotswold Canals – History

Cotswold Canals is the title given to two connected Gloucestershire waterways, The Stroudwater Navigation and The Thames & Severn Canal.

The thirty six mile long waterway links England’s two great rivers, The Severn and Thames.

The Stroudwater Navigation meets the Thames & Severn Canal at Wallbridge in Stroud.

The Stroudwater Navigation

In the 1740s Richard Owen Cambridge built a man made waterway near to Wheatenhurst for pleasure purposes.

The Kemmett Canal was then constructed between 1759 and 1763 from Framilode to the Stonehouse area.

This mainly consisted of making sections of the river Frome navigable between weirs or mill ponds. Cargo was then craned, up or down, from boats on one side of the weir to a boat on the other side.

This system was the earliest known example of container traffic on an inland waterway.

The picture left shows the Bridge Keeper’s cottage and toll office at Saul Junction in 1910.

The junction where the Stroudwater crossed the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal.

The Stroudwater Navigation as we see it today was built between 1775 and 1779 from Framilode, on the banks of the River Severn, to Wallbridge, Stroud.

From the beginning, it was very profitable. Such success meant that the Company of Proprietors was keen that their canal form part of the proposed link with the Thames and thereby London.
In 1781 they commissioned a survey of the line from Stroud to Cricklade on the River Thames.

The report recommended the Stroud to Cirencester route. However, the surveyor, Robert Whitworth, warned that trouble would be encountered on the summit, which was to be built over “bad rocky ground”