Chelmer Canal Trust, formerly the Friends of the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

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Coates' Cuttings

The Chelmer Canal Trust's Newsletter June 2006 Issue 33
Registered Charity No 1086112.

The last horse-drawn barge on the River Lea - in 1955 near Waltham Abbey

The last horse-drawn barge on the River Lea - in 1955 near Waltham Abbey


In This Issue

Current Work on the Canal.
Boat Watch
The Pennywort Campaign
The Spirit of the River
How the River Blackwater Lost its Bed and its Name
“The Cockleshell Heroes”
..Some Extracts from the Chelmsford Chronicle 1764-1799
Events Diary Page





Current Work on the Canal

The new managers of the canal, Essex Waterways Limited, a limited company of the Inland Waterways Association, have been very busy tending to their new responsibilities. Since taking over they have undertaken various improvement projects all along the navigation, mostly accomplished by teams of volunteers.
Recent work, starting from the Chelmsford end, has included removing old bikes and rubbish which was trapped on the lower cill of Springfield lock thus preventing the closure of the lower gates (this has always been a problem there as, if it persists, the gates dry out and leak).
At Sandford lock, after a few false starts last year, new upper gates have been installed and brickwork repairs carried out in the lock chamber. Some new camp shedding has been carried out to the north bank at the exit to the lock; this has been integrated into the new landing stage (provided by the Chelmer Canal Trust). It all looks very tidy and ship shape: no more climbing up slippery, semi existent steps. Whilst the dredger was on site it was possible to dredge the lock cut. Now, as if approving the changes, two boats are now moored on either side of the lock cut. New recycling bins have been installed for the use of boaters here and at Paper Mill.
Moving downstream to Paper Mill: emergency repairs have had to be carried out on the upper gate- a re-hanging job, evidently. Let's hope that it wasn't caused by human error! For this lock to be closed at this time of the year creates a major deterrent for many potential river users. It sounds as if Essex Waterways Ltd are a rapid response outfit!
The Inland Waterways Association is able to utilise the services of the Waterways Recovery Group, another of their restoration bodies. They organise work parties on a nationwide basis and are a professional outfit, bristling with experience, qualifications and equipment. They have earlier in the year been called in to help with clearing work at Heybridge Basin, and last month saw them at work at Hoe Mill where they were assisted by IWA, CCT members, and others, in clearing the bank side storage area and generally tidying things up. Downstream of the lock, improvements were made to the landing stage and steps, some more camp shedding by the lock with back filling was installed. In recognition of their efforts the resident boaters were presented with two new purpose built barbecues.
At the Heybridge Basin end much clearance work along the south bank has been carried out, thus providing space for more moorings and boat storage. On the north bank the surrounds of the former London borough of Newham canoe shed - a good timber building - have been tidied up. The underpinning work of the new toilet block on the lock house bank has been completed.
This is not a complete list of what has been accomplished in a relatively short time. All in all it demonstrates that the new team mean business.


Boat Watch

The boating season never really closes. Early In January several craft convened one Sunday at Paper Mill Lock for maintenance purposes. A couple of boats were out of the water there for repairs and painting, including “Caffell” the day trip boat, and “Victoria” was noted part of the way through repainting of her upper superstructure. One Sunday, narrowboats “Katchina” and “Rivendell” were spotted in quick succession making day trips below Paper Mill, returning together the same afternoon. “Bittern” makes regular forays down from there at all times of year and whatever the weather.
Look out for returning “Andante” above Paper Mill Lock. Andante has spent some months on the Norfolk Broads. Look out also for “Arion”, a narrowboat that can be found normally within a lock or two of Paper Mill. Works boat “Julie”, moored for some time at Hoe Mill, had moved from there by 17th April.
On Thursday 16th February “Camelot” was noted being towed by “Blackwater Rose” from their mooring at Sandford Mill all the way to Heybridge Basin, both boats going down together through the locks with particularly high water levels and flows on the day. Clearly there were echoes of the times when timber barges used to make the run from one end of the line to the other and halfway back the same day, and when narrowboats used to run as a motor-and-butty pair through double locks on the main canal system. It is understood from Camelot's owner that this interesting working was necessary as an engine change operation was taking place the following week at Heybridge. He has found that a larger engine has made a substantial improvement to the boat's performance and as a consequence Camelot will take more frequent outings this summer. Blackwater Rose has had attention to her steel plates. Both boats were noted working upstream back to Sandford together, this time both under their own power, on Friday 14th March, with day trips being booked over Easter for Blackwater Rose.
Sandford Lock went out of use from March 20th to mid-April for repairs. Cuton lock is intended to follow at some point in the autumn.
On Friday 21st April an open meeting of river users took place at Langford Village Hall, with over 40 interested persons attending. Doug Beard, a Trustee of the Inland Waterways Association (another registered charity), led an informative question-and-answer session describing the IWA's new involvement with the navigation. This is to happen through its fully-owned subsidiary company, Essex Waterways Ltd., which has entered into a voluntary agreement with the Chelmer & Blackwater Company to operate and maintain the navigation for ten years. The intention is to perpetuate the arrangement. Attendees heard how the new subsidiary will operate, providing greater scope for volunteer input to the future of the navigation's infrastructure in partnership with many other organisations. The session was lively and constructive, with many boat users expressing satisfaction with the event, the way it was handled, and with the many new associations and friendships that resulted. IWA/Essex Waterways Ltd. has published a 20-year business plan for the navigation, with a list of deferred maintenance and new development items that it would like to achieve. With the intent on financing principally from revenue with top-ups from grant funds the list totals currently over £1/2million on deferred maintenance and over £3/4million in developments.
Currently there is a waiting list for vessels and owners with desires to move to the Chelmer. Some reorganisation of moorings and access to them has taken place at Sandford Mill recently to accommodate more boats. The intention is to develop further moorings below Sandford and at Heybridge on the non-towpath side. Planning applications have been made to establish two residential moorings each at Sandford, Paper Mill and Hoe Mill in an effort to increase security. Also the six residential moorings at Heybridge may become eight. There is scope in the future to develop the former Essex Water Works site at Sandford for a new marina.
It should be pointed out that the IWA's policy is one of equitable use of the nation's waterways. So a detail of “boatiquette” in the last issue, that of prioritising “Victoria” through locks, no longer applies, which should streamline the passage of boats through locks and at Paper Mill in particular.

by “Yellow Ensign”




The Pennywort Campaign

This year's work by our teams of volunteers started in January at Sandford lock at the very place where we all assembled three years ago. At that time the river was virtually blocked by huge rafts of pennywort, especially in the lock cuts. The task looked to be impossible because the weed coverage was so vast and it "weighed a ton". Since then continuous work parties have physically removed the bulk by hand, and teams of canoeists have followed up by removing the remnants. It has been a major success story with the pennywort now having been reduced to very low levels for ten miles, from Sandford to Heybridge Basin. (The three miles upstream to Chelmsford was cleared by the Environment Agency)
A voluntary weed picking crew with a bundle of weed on the foredeck in Ricketts Lock Cut, April 2005

A voluntary weed picking crew with a bundle of weed on the foredeck in Ricketts Lock Cut, April 2005

The Trust's efforts have been recently reinforced by grants from the East Anglia Development Agency and the Essex Biodiversity Partnership which enabled contractors to be employed to work on the area from Hoe Mill to Heybridge Basin. The contractors followed up the work that the Trust had already done on this stretch previously in the year. The new canal owners, Essex Waterways Ltd, were also able to help.
At the present time the volunteers are taking a well earned rest! This has been made possible by the effectiveness of our clearances, and the cold winter, which seems to have discouraged the residual pennywort from growing this spring - you will have noticed that the blooming of wild flowers and the return of migrant birds was similarly delayed.
Another volunteer crew - in Long Pond Heybridge We know from bitter experience that pennywort suddenly appears from nowhere when conditions are favourable. So we have planned regular canoe patrols to monitor the situation, and have earmarked various weekday evenings in the summer months where the "Weed Busters will be standing-by: June 21st, 12th July,16th August; and returning to the first Saturday of the month sessions in September. We don't yet know whether the teams will be needed, we hope not, but we will be ready to continue the battle if necessary.
Despite all of our efforts we recognise that it will take probably several years for the Chelmer and Blackwater valleys to be declared "pennywort free zones" and that our biggest enemy will be "complacency". For example there have been new sightings of pennywort in the field ditches south of the "Fox and Raven" pub at Springfield and below Manor Farm at Great Baddow. We are expecting that there will be others and we will be working with teams from the Environment Agency and Defra to tackle these.
I am hoping that we should be in a position towards the end of the year to celebrate the official end of our campaign by holding an appropriate ceremony to which all the main contributors will be invited. There's a little way to go yet but we're nearly there.

Dudley Courtman




The Spirit of the River

I met the “Spirit of the River” on a bright spring day in the tranquil wilderness of the river above Ulting church. There he was casually paddling along, sporting a flowing beard, cowboy's hat and buckskin trousers, perched on a floating board, hardly a canoe, surrounded by his life's possessions, just two rucksacks.
He needed no encouragement to stop for a chat and drew alongside. “Oh isn't this a wonderful place to be, nothing has changed during the thirty years since I've been away. It's still quiet, serene and unspoilt, it inspires me with a spiritual feeling”
I tentatively offer: “Wordsworthian isn't it”
“Ah yes, that's it completely. I must remind myself.” Whereupon he reached inside his jacket and pulled out a battered anthology and enthusiastically started leafing through the pages:
“ These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration….”

“Wordsworth hated cities and so do I. I have given myself up to the pursuit of the untouched and have spent my life like Jesus travelling. No set destination just enjoying the world and its peoples, thinking deeply about it all and writing some poetry.”
He confessed that he had travelled that day as far as Paper Mill, and had been frightened there by the touch of the human hand: the many moored boats, the noise and bank-side buildings; he could not face it and was forced to retreat.
When he left me he paddled off steadily downstream towards Hoe Mill. There was no car waiting for him. I watched from a distance as he, completely self contained, calmly slung his bags, together with his boat, on his back and went in search of an agreeable resting place in the wilderness for the night.

Dudley Courtman




How the River Blackwater Lost its Bed and its Name

One of the first reasonably accurate maps of Essex was drawn by Messrs. Chapman and Andre in 1773. It contains a wealth of information on the natural features and settlements in the county at that time. It was to this map that I turned when asked by Peter Farnell-Watson, the present owner of Heybridge Mill, about the original route of the River Blackwater. The mill has been in his family since 1870 and he wanted to find out how the construction of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation in 1793 affected the mill's water rights.
The 1773 map clearly shows the River Blackwater flowing through the village of Langford where its waters were used by the corn mill there, before turning in an easterly direction to Heybridge where its waters were harnessed to power the mill there.
Every mill has a bypass weir and stream, which enables the miller to control water levels. Langford's mill stream is to the west of the mill and is clearly marked on the Chapman and Andre map flowing south to join the river Chelmer below Beeleigh mill. It still follows roughly the same route today (see D on our modern map below, showing the old and new water courses)

The interesting question raised by Peter Farnell Watson is when and why the original course of the Blackwater between the two mills was abandoned? The remains of it can be traced on current Ordnance Survey maps as a series of unconnected tree-lined ditches. The new housing development in Heybridge has obscured the route somewhat but the ditches can still be traced in the fields to the south of the Witham to Maldon road, the B1019, (see A on the map) and in a depression on the north bank of the canal opposite Heybridge mill near the Holloway Road bridge.( see B on map)
The entrance to Heybridge Mill from the canal
The entrance to Heybridge Mill from the canal

It was the construction of the canal in 1793 from Heybridge Basin to Chelmsford Basin that caused the abandonment of the part of the route of the River Blackwater that fed Heybridge Mill.
"A Plan of the River Chelmer Surveyed by Thomas Yeoman in 1765" (ERO) was the first survey carried out to show a possible route for a navigation between Chelmsford and the sea. It shows how the course of the river Chelmer could be used for most of the route, and then extended by a man-made cut from Beeleigh weir to join Heybridge Creek to the south of the mill. This proposal retained the use of the River Blackwater to power Heybridge mill, and also goes some way to meeting the town of Maldon objections to the new navigation by joining the sea at the port of Heybridge.
So in 1765 the River Blackwater was still in its original bed but in 1792 when a plan was drawn by John Wedge under the direction of John Rennie (the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation' engineer), the River Blackwater, after leaving Langford, is shown flowing eastwards for about half a mile, before abruptly changing its course southwards to join the proposed new navigation opposite Maldon golf course (see C on map).
The puzzle of what happened to the original course of the River Blackwater and how the water rights of the Heybridge mill owner were maintained now becomes clearer. The answer lies in the course of a minor river, not shown on the Chapman and Andre map, which branched off the main river to take a southerly route just east of Langford to join the new navigation at the island opposite Maldon golf course. It is a very old river course and must have pre- dated the 1773 map, but has not been included on it. This little river, with the construction of the canal, became the main river Blackwater and was so named. With the diversion of the main river, water was provided both for the navigation and for Heybridge Mill via Heybridge mill via a new controlling weir and the original bed of the Blackwater to the south of the B 1019 was abandoned.
A mystery still remains as to where the course of the little Blackwater actually ran before the navigation was built. Various circuitous depressions in the present golf course, south of the navigation could be evidence of the river's former course before joining the estuarial Chelmer. What seems certain is that this river did not flow from the island opposite the golf course conveniently in an arc eastwards past the present day Tesco to meet up with Heybridge Mill, an artificial cut had to be made.
Today when we talk about the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation we all assume that it involves the course of both rivers. This is clearly not the case as it is only the waters of the diverted Blackwater that were used and not its bed.
Just to confuse us even more, the Ordnance Survey on their 1897 map, decided to rename the Langford Stream (the westerly Langford mill stream), the River Blackwater; thus ensuring that the River Blackwater not only lost its bed but its name as well!
It is going to be hard to accept after all these years that the river that meets the Chelmer at Beeleigh weir is not the River Blackwater after all even if it does contain some of its water!

Meeting of Langford Stream (Blackwater) and canal at Beeleigh

The engineering feat by the navigation's engineers is impressive. They had to construct a sea lock at Heybridge Basin (Colliers Reach) and make a one mile cut through Potton Marsh to the village of Heybridge; find a way of by passing the mill so as not to interfere with its water rights ; then to cross Langford Cut ( a new cut made by the Langford miller to Beeleigh); then to construct a weir at Beeleigh to allow flood water to escape from the then Langford Stream and to prevent the flooding of the canal at high tide;, and then to make a lock with a cut to the River Chelmer that didn't interfere with the waters of Beeleigh Mill. The calculations involved in choosing the correct levels for this work are critical, as today's boaters well know from the difficulties experienced in opening Ricketts Lock after the recent replacement of Ricketts Weir. All of this will form the subject of a future article.

Dudley Courtman




"The Cockleshell Heroes"

Dudley Courtman writes about the versatility of canoes and how they were used in a daring raid by marine commandos in World War II

During the Trust's recent work on clearing the invasive pennywort from the canal I was constantly reminded of the great versatility of our canoeists: they were able to penetrate every overgrown backwater, to carry heavy loads, and to portage over, or around, any obstacles in their path. It was these very qualities that were recognised by Major Hasler, a marine commando stationed at Portsmouth in World War II, when he was put in charge of organising a daring raid on enemy shipping in Bordeaux harbour. At that stage in the war, 1942, the War Office calculated that it would take at least 50,000 men to mount an attack by land, forces that could not be spared, and that a naval attack up 62miles of the heavily fortified and mined River Gironde was not realistic.
“Blondie” Hasler had grown up on the south coast and had spent his boyhood canoeing and sailing the local shores and estuaries. He realised that the canoe possessed the special qualities required for a commando attack by water: inconspicuous, silent, stable, seaworthy, load carrier, strong and portable. So he set to experimenting to make a canoe that could be folded, with a bottom strong enough to be dragged over a beach, and just wide enough to pass through the 28 inches of the torpedo hatch of a submarine.


The finished product, the Mk2 Cockle (it is on display in the Maldon Military Museum in Station Road, Maldon), was a fully decked canoe capable of carrying two men and 150lbs of equipment through rough water. The cockpit was covered with a large spray deck, which was held together by metal spring clips. The crew wore anoraks with elasticated waists which fitted tightly around the cockpit rim, the same type as the original Eskimo hunters used on their kayaks. The wooden seats were raised only 1inch from the canoe's bottom, there was a backrest but no footrest.
The canoes were fitted with a compass, bow and stern lines, a bailer, sponge and two pairs of jointed double paddles. As with all things military a paddling drill was developed: “the normal method of propulsion was for each man to use a double paddle, the aftermost man (No 2), keeping in time with (no 1), who was in command and was responsible for steering. To alter course, he would simply take two or more successive strokes on one side only; no 2, seeing what he was doing, would follow suit… to propel these canoes for all the hours of a night was extremely arduous work. All the effort was thrown on the muscles above the waist, and the legs, unused, and lying nearly flat on the bottom of the boat, could easily become senseless. Thus strain on the arms and shoulders was severe…..the shoulders and arm muscles had to be specifically worked up by all sorts of exercises (today's canoeists would be amazed by the lack of a footrest which would bring the muscles of the legs and back into play). As the strain on the shoulder muscles was excessive it was standard practice to stop for 5 minutes every hour to rest and make adjustments. When in a group the canoes would raft together. The paddles could be split when there was a danger of being observed. Hand signals were employed for steering, stopping, continue, and change to single paddles.”*
C. E. Lucas -Phillips' book, “The Cockleshell Heroes” *, contains this master piece of understatement “... the canoe was extremely seaworthy provided it could be kept the right way up”! When having to contend with waves, surf or tidal races it was vital (also!) to keep the canoe bows on to them (today's experienced sea canoeists know that this is easier said than done). Capsize drills involved swimming out of the canoe under water, flicking the boat over, and bailing it out. In rough water conditions this was found to be virtually impossible.
The men chosen to undertake the mission were all volunteers with no canoeing or small boat experience - the experienced ones had already been commandeered by the Royal Navy. Hence Hasler's team were a collection of very ordinary young men: a coal merchant's clerk, a milk rounds man, factory workers and one ship's hand. He was the only experienced one and his task was to train up a bunch of raw volunteers, one of whom couldn't even swim.
They worked from a Nissen hut on the front at Southsea, near Portsmouth, from where they frequently paddled to the Isle of Wight and back, sometimes before breakfast and sometimes at night! They were immersed into a hard physical fitness training programme: out in all weathers for four months. “It was asking a lot of a city lad to learn to navigate by night without lights, handle his craft in all conditions, exercise initiative, cunning and deception, swim underwater, handle explosives, draw maps and find his way about on land, and have the wits to get away from the enemy, either overland or on water”.* They learned how to cope with soft mud, how to enter a harbour and “lie up”. They carried our canoeing endurance tests- 34 mile paddles in one night- night marches followed by early morning swims, running across shingle in bare feet, capsize drills, chart reading, repairs, maintenance and field craft exercises: work on stores, food, clothing, tide tables, sunrise and setting times: how to place and set limpet mines: launching from a submarine - the canoe was placed on sling and lowered from a steel girder attached to the sub's rotating and elevating deck gun.
They were forged into a formidable fighting team, as hard as nails and accomplished enough, in the opinion of one Royal Navy commander, to be officers.
When their training was finished they left Southsea for final preparations at the submarine base in Holy Loch, Scotland. At that stage none of them knew what lay ahead but before they finally set sail they felt the strong bonds of home, and proud of their great achievement, wrote to their families. On the evening of their final departure they, together with the submarine's crew, paraded on deck and, in true naval tradition, saluted the depot ship by bosun's pipe. They were now full professionals ready to serve.
Later that evening they were told the real nature of their mission: they were to be dropped off in the open sea under cover of darkness, to follow the coast for ten miles on their starboard side, to turn140 degrees into the mouth of the Gironde estuary, to then paddle 60 miles to Bordeaux, to avoid the enemy, to attack ships in the harbour with limpet mines at high water and then to withdraw overland as best as they could.
On a cold, moonless, December night, ten miles south of the entrance to the Gironde estuary, ten commandos in five “cockles” were launched from the submarine Tuna. The sixth cockle, Cachalot, never made it to the water because, as it was being lifted through the hatch cover, its fabric side was ripped on a sharp metal corner. Cockles, “Catfish”, Crayfish, Conger, Cuttlefish and Coalfish set off without her.
After an hour's paddling they stopped for a rest: all was well except for some sea sickness caused by the rolling swell. The first signs of danger ahead came from the roar and crash of waves of an unexpected tidal race. Approaching at the speed of 4 to 5 knots there was no escape. They could only rely on their rough water drill and try to keep their canoes bow on to the waves - if turned broadside they would capsize. It was everyman for himself! The crews fought doggedly through the maelstrom and eventually gathered in the quieter water beyond. All that is except Codfish which didn't arrive. They waited expectantly but after a time, with great reluctance, they were forced to carry on.
Even worse conditions lay ahead, another tide race, this time with 5ft waves which threw them around like matchsticks. Conger capsized and had to be abandoned, its crew taken in tow by the others. Unfortunately the sea had not finished with them yet, another tide race had to be run, this time with two men on tow and in the glare of the light house at the mouth of the Gironde. They were eventually swept by the tide into the estuary where, to their horror, they were forced to pass a line of moored enemy ships, reputedly ready for inspection by the Admiral the next day. The only way of avoiding being seen was to drift past in single file, lying face down in their cockpits, which meant they would have to cast the swimmers adrift and hope that they had sufficient strength left to swim ashore. During the silent drift past the ships they lost contact with Catfish, and, after waiting some time, it was assumed that she had missed them and had gone on alone. They had covered 26 miles in 11 hours and they found a hiding place where they could rest through the daylight hours. Their arrival and departure from day time “hides”, there were four in all, had to be timed precisely so as to ensure the best use of darkness for cover and the flood tide for speed.
After three days paddling they had covered 60 miles and the last night was spent amongst 11ft high reeds within sight of their target- the moored merchant ships in Bordeaux harbour. When night fell Crayfish and Catfish separated and attacked the merchant boats along both banks. Drifting on the tide they clamped themselves on with their holdfasts and attached limpet mines below the water line using their specially made 6ft poles. The task completed, they pushed out into mid-stream and retreated on the ebb tide as fast as they could.
This was the ultimate canoeing expedition - a great calculated risk by very brave men. The marine commandos achieved their objective, sinking and damaging at least six merchant boats, but there was a tragic cost to pay in lives, only the crew of Catfish, Major Hasler and Bill Sparks returned. Their courageous story can be relived by visiting the Maldon Military Museum where one of the original “cockles” is on display.

* The “Cockleshell Heroes” by C E Lucas Phillips, published by Pan Books

Major Hasler subsequently donated a trophy to the British Canoe Union, the “Hasler Trophy”, which is competed for annually by all of the country's leading canoe clubs, Chelmsford Canoe Club included.


Some Extracts from the Chelmsford Chronicle 1764-1799 *

The Chelmsford Chronicle newspaper of 18th January 1793(“Price Three Pence”) has an account of the making of the navigation from Chelmsford to Heybridge Basin. It was mooted to make the River Chelmer navigable in 1764, but it was not until 1793 that the plans were completed, and the canal eventually opened in 1797:

“18th January 1793

On Saturday, the Essex Navigation Company met, and finally concluded on their plan for making the river Chelmer navigable, from this town into an arm of the sea called Blackwater, below the port of Maldon; the subscription of £31,0001. for the completion of this public work was immediately filled, principally by the gentlemen of the county: more than fifty persons attended out of Leicestershire, for the purpose of subscribing -but a preference being given to the inhabitants of Essex, they were not able to procure many of the shares; the shares are £100 each, and no person is allowed to hold more than three.”

The meeting was held in the Old Black Boy Inn, a popular place for public meetings. Part of it was given over to the town Post Office. It must have been a very agreeable place according to the advert placed in the paper by its landlord on 5th January 1776:


The Black Boy Inn (1762)

William Larkin begs leave to return his most grateful acknowledgements to the nobility, gentry, and others who have so liberally conferred their favours upon him; and takes the liberty of acquainting them, that he has through their assistance been enabled to fit up the said inn in a neat and commodious manner; and has laid in a large assortment of the very best wines, brandies, rums &c., which he proposes to sell wholesale and retail, upon the most reasonable terms.

Neat post-chaises at nine pence per mile.”

The Black Boy was sited on the junction of Springfied Road and the High Street, now occupied by Next.

A report in the paper on 2nd June 1797 records the navigation's completion:

“The navigation from Colliers Reach, near Maldon, to this town, being completed, all barges now ready with coals, &c., will, on Saturday morning, arrive at the last lock, in Springfield Mead, and at ten o'clock, proceed in a grand procession, with colours flying, &c., into the basin, near Springfield Bridge, the grounds around, which is now divided and let to different persons for wharfs, will, in a few days after the opening, be plentifully stored with coals, lime, chalk, cinders, &c., &c.,”

And so the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation became a reality and the industrialisation of Chelmsford begun.

“First Reports” compiled by Thora Broughton and published by The Essex Chronicle Series, Westway, Chelmsford







Some useful phone numbers:

Chelmer Canal Trust - 01621 892231
Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Company;-
Hugh Turner- 01245 222025
Colin Edmond- 01621 853506
Ron and Judith, Blackwater Boat Trips- 01206-853282
Environment Agency - 01376 572095

No articles may be copied or reprinted without the author's consent. The Chelmer Canal Trust may not agree with opinions expressed in this newsletter. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless stated otherwise and no liability can be accepted for any matter in the newsletter.

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