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The Stamford Canal

We think the confusion over just where the Stamford Canal starts and finishes can be overcome by our choosing our nomemclature more carefully.

The River Welland was at one time navigable all the way up to Stamford but over the years the upper reaches became impassable.
It was to overcome this that Stamford Corporation was granted its Royal Charter in 1621. The corporation was empowered, firstly, to make an artificial cut, separate from the river, from Hudds Mill some six and a half miles through ten locks down to Market Deeping, where the cut was to rejoin the river.
And secondly to make the river navigable for a further two and a half miles southwards from Market Deeping through two locks. From there the river was presumably in a reasonable navigable condition.

Hence I have always regarded the Stamford Canal as stopping at Market Deeping where it rejoined the Welland to the west of the main crossroads in the town - i.e. downstream of Market Deeping Mill and lock and upstream of Market Deeping Bridge. How this junction came to be known as Tongue End, very close to Market Deeping town center, (Lot 21 1865 auction) I have no idea, but perhaps the name derives from the tip of land where the canal and river met at a fairly acute angle being shaped like a tongue.

To my mind we could perhaps overcome the confusion by referring to the whole nine-mile navigation as the Stamford Navigation, of which the Stamford Canal formed an important part.
I say "formed" for most of the line has disappeared with the stretch in Market Deeping having been filled in.

This also helps understand the nonsense of the head of the navigation being quoted as Hudds Mill, where the canal section began, whereas the main wharves were on the river on the way up to the town bridge.

A walk from Tallington to West Deeping along the route of the Stamford Canal or as the locals called it 'The Boaty River' with Ken Otter turned out to be a very interesting day. The remains of Tallington Village lock structure. Now kept tidy as a nice garden.

The first big surprise for me was a winding hole in Tallington. Once Ken pointed out its position, its shape can clearly be seen in the grass alongside the canal bed.

The path runs along the canal bed, and the bench is situated just about in the middle of the winding hole.

The next feature is the railway crossing. Today very little of the canal can be seen at the crossing. Ken told me that the rails on the Eastern side crossed the canal just below the Tallington Horse Holmes lock. They had to curve the track bed round the end of the lock to avoid the need of embankment to cross the canal at the higher level above the lock. Later, more tracks were laid on the Western side over the top of the lock. Lock structure likely still remains buried under the track bed. The tunnel is still under the Eastern rails, though filled in. East of the railway the canal bed progresses to West Deeping with a mysterious curve through the field. We couldn't see any obvious reason for the curve. Possibly to avoid marshy ground, or following the contour to avoid embankments. (More study needed here) In West Deeping we found the canal watered before it disappears into private gardens. Most of Structure remains of the St Andrews lock.

It has been rearranged far from how it was originally.

The bottom gate structure is pretty much complete. Below this lock was a basin, the tennis courts are built over what locals call a 'Winding Basin'.

The tail of the opening into St Andrews lock has odd sides, possibly to allow boats easier entry from the basin


Ken, examining the ironwork on St Andrews Lock


The road in West Deeping was crossed by ford with a footbridge over the canal. Here there is evidence of a feeder that supplied an arm.

The arm is clearly visible cutting across the field to the East of the road terminating at the building, which is at the side of what looks to be two derricks. The derricks poles don't look very original. They look to be positioned where the arm ends, exactly where loading, unloading would have taken place.

Its thought that lighters came up in threes. Dropping one off in West Deeping, another in Tallington and the last one proceeding up into Stamford. Once unloaded, then reloaded with outbound goods it would head back collecting the ready and reloaded lighters in each village.

Many thanks to Ken for taking the time to show me the remaining features. And for sharing his knowledge about the canal.

In the yard at West Deeping, between a fire damaged building and what was possibly a canalside warehouse. The two poles are positioned where we believe the arm ended. And where loading would have taken place. On a closer inspection the poles look to be reused telegraph poles. Maybe someones idea of a reconstruction of canalside derricks.

Steve Machin, who wrote this article, would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to share information on the Bourne Eau, Stamford Canal and associated waters.
Please email him on

The Stamford Canal.

In the Sixteenth century the people of Stamford submitted a petition to the crown asking permission to improve the navigation of the river Welland between Stamford and Market Deeping by creating a new cut to bypass the watermills. A 'Navigation Act' was signed by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1571.

After a few false starts the canal construction was started by Daniel Wigmore in 1664 at a cost of £5000. Its completion date is not exactly known but traffic was reported to pass up and down in 1673, some 100 years before the Bridgewater canal!

The canal was six and a half miles long and twelve locks completed the navigation. The ten locks on the canal were turf sided with stone abutments. The other two locks on the River Welland in Deeping St James had stone chambers to withstand the faster flow of the river when in flood. Some excavation on the canal bed near Stamford revealed that blue clay puddling was used to line the canal.

Warehouse on the riverside near the Stamford Town Bridge

Stamford town bridge. Possibly the upper limit of the navigable Welland.

The cut started just above Hudd's mill.

Boats would leave the Welland and almost immediately be in the first lock.

No trace of the canal can be seen 
- Until this dip in the field quite a way below Hudd's mill.

The river Gwash was crossed by the canal here. This weir is in the Gwash bypass channel.
A sluice was in the river channel.
Together the weir and sluice controlled the river level so the canal could cross on the same level.

The canal bed can easily be followed through Uffington park.

Ancient canal bed in Uffington park.

Remains of stone bridge in Uffington park.

The towing path between Uffington road bridge and Uffington park makes a most enjoyable walk.

Briggins lock in Deeping is the most complete of the remaining structures.

Briggins lock chamber.

Briggin's lock gate metalwork.

Briggin's lock. The gates had no beams like our modern locks have. These gates were pulled open by chains.

Low locks in Deeping St James.
From here the Welland was navigable to the sea, some 34 miles in total.

By 1860 the canal was getting impossible to navigate. In 1863 the canal was used for the last time.



Location Ordnance Survey Map Reference Stamford Canal Miles/Yards River Welland Miles/ Yards
Stamford, High Street Bridge 03060694 0 : 0
Footbridge 03360693 0 : 330
Junction of the canal and the river, east of Stamford 04140737 0 : 0 0 : 1350
Hudd's Mill Lock No 1 (Top Lock) 042074 0 : 150
Accommodation Bridge (access to Hudd's Mill) 042075 0 : 175
River Gwash Crossing 04830763 0 : 775 1 : 420
Uffington Stone Bridge (road to Barnack) 06640794 1 : 1320 2 : 650
Copthill Farm West Lock No 2 (Copthill Upper Lock) 073072 2 : 460
Copthill Farm East Lock No 3 (Copthill Lower Lock) 077073 2 : 1025
Copthill Turnpike Lock No 4 (West Marsh Lock) 083077 3 : 80
Tallington Village Lock No 5 992080 3 : 850
Tallington Crossing (ford - road to Bainton) 09240794 3 : 1005 3 : 1640
Tallington Horse Holmes Lock No 6 098083 3 : 1600
Railway Crossing - Great Northern Railway from Peterborough 09870832 3 : 1690 4 : 710
St. Andrews Lock No 7, West Deeping 109087 4 : 1310
West Deeping Crossing (ford - King Street - Roman Road) 11010872 4 : 1480 5 : 470
Eastfield Lock No 8 West Deeping (Lammas Close Lock) 118093 5 : 1295
Molecey's Lock No 9 (Molecey Mill Lock) 124098 6 : 250 6 : 790
Greatford Drainage Cut enters from the north 12610987 6 : 415 6 : 960
A 15 Bridge (Deeping Bypass - modern) 13040982 6 : 935 6 : 1430
Thorpe's Lock No 10, Market Deeping (Market Deeping Mill Lock) 13400990 6 : 1340 7 : 85
Tongue End, end of Stamford Canal which rejoins the Welland 13600990 6 : 1540 7 : 275
Market Deeping Bridge (B.1524 former A5 Lincoln Road) 13860986 7 : 620
Briggin's Lock No 11, Deeping Gate (lock extant & footbridge) 14830957 7 : 1730
Deeping Gate Bridge (B 1162 road to Northborough) 15060951 8 : 240
Footbridge 15120948 8 : 310
Deeping Low Lock No 12, Deeping St. James 16410901 9 : 270
Railway Bridge - Peterborough to Spalding & Boston 17530737 10 : 500
Junction with the Maxey (Drainage) Cut 17730738 10 : 950
Junction with the Folly River 17980753 10 : 1270
Junction with arm towards Borough Fen 21260951 13 : 310
Junction with former arm to Crowland 22971061 14 : 780
Fen Bridge, Crowland (B.1166) 22951064 14 : 830
Four Mile Bar Footbridge (near St. Guthlac's Cross) 25621527 18 : 90
Spalding Southern Bypass Bridge (A.16) 23791924 20 : 1740
Junction with New River Drain (New River Outfall) 24252121 22 : 730
Little London Bridge (linking the B.1172 and B.1173) 24292129 22 : 830
Railway Bridge (former Spalding to March line) 24442158 22 : 1200
Entrance to the Coronation Flood Channel 24502171 22 : 1370
New Footbridge 24642193 22 : 1630
Site of former railway bridge (Spalding to King's Lynn line) 24642195 22 : 1670
High Bridge, Spalding 24862253 23 : 650
Albion Street, Spalding 25002278 23 : 920
Footbridge 25182303 23 : 1310
Footbridge 25202308 23 : 1350
West Elloe Bridge (A.151 - roundabout with adjoining bridge) 25532355 24 : 190
West Elloe Bridge (A.151 - roundabout with adjoining bridge) 25532355 24 : 230
Fulney Tidal Lock 25812403 24 : 830
Coronation Flood Relief Channel rejoins the Welland 25912421 24 : 1060
Spalding Northern Bypass bridge (A.16) 26383527 25 : 1150
Junction with Vernatt's Drain (Vernatt's Outfall) 28252936 28 : 800
Junction with River Glen, Surfleet Seas End 28252950 28 : 920
Junction with Lord's Drain 29553077 29 : 1280
Junction with Risegate Eau Drain (Risegate Outfall) 30373161 30 : 790
Fosdyke Bridge (A.17 - replacing former moveable span) 31873223 31 : 840
Greenwich Meridian 34553475 33 : 940
The Wash (District Council boundary) 36463538 34 : 1710

Compiled by Alan Faulkner on 4 January 2006, with subsequent modifications.

Distances: The left hand column covers the canal section where the distances have been calculated mainly by using the figures quoted in the auction particulars for the intended sale of the canal on 10 April 1865 as published in the Stamford and Rutland Mercury.
Twenty-four lots detailed the various lengths of the waterway but some are distinctly vague. Meanwhile a drawing appearing in “The Stamford Canal” published in 2005 by Deepings Heritage, and drawn by Garland Grylls in 2001, sets out the position of the locks along the navigation.
Lot From To Yards
1 First gate east of Hudd's Mill River Gwash crossing 625
2 East side of river Gwash Uffington Stone Bridge 2305
3 Uffington Stone Bridge past two locks Fence at the bend of the canal 2006
4 East end of Lot 3 including the lock Deeping & Morcott turnpike road 245
5 East end of Lot 4 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 100
6 East end of Lot 5 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 100
7 East end of Lot 6 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 100
8 East end of Lot 7 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 100
9 East end of Lot 8 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 100
10 East end of Lot 9 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 160
11 East end of Lot 10 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 147
12 East end of Lot 11 Tallington Stone Bridge 147
13 Tallington Stone Bridge Tallington Foot Bridge 344
14 Tallington Foot Bridge West side of Great Northern Railway 448
15 West side of Great Northern Railway West Deeping Bridge 1552
16 West Deeping Bridge Foot bridge in West Deeping 201
17 Foot bridge in West Deeping West end of Lot 18 1415
18 East end of Lot 18 West end of Lot 19 including lock 676
19 East end of Lot 18 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 421
20 East end of Lot 19 Not specified - alongside turnpike road 415
21 East end of Lot 20 The Tongue End, Market Deeping 345
22 Land between the Welland and the Lower Locks in Deeping St. James
(Includes Lower Lock)
23 Briggin Lock, Deeping St James
24 River Gwash masonry & iron sluice doors
The locks at Deeping Gate and Deeping St. James formed part of the Stamford Canal undertaking despite being on the main course of the river. The exact site of Tongue End is conjectural.

The right hand table has been created using modern Ordnance Survey Explorer maps (Rutland Water - 15; Wisbech & Peterborough North - 235) and map measurement.

Allowing for the different starting point of the two tables there is a difference between them of 855 yards at the Deeping Bypass Bridge. This has not yet been resolved but seems more likely to lie in the canal table owing to the incomplete information available. Amendments and additions to this list and any general comments would be welcomed.

Eight digit Ordnance Survey map references have been given where possible, particularly downstream from the Deeping Bypass Bridge as places can be accurately identified. As it is difficult to determine the precise position of several of the canal locks, six digit

The Future.

It would be great to see this canal restored. It runs through some very pretty countryside, terminating in Stamford. Would be a very interesting town to visit by boat. This canal certainly gets my vote for restoration.

A book called 'The Stamford Canal' Published by Deepings Heritage is a very worthy read.

The Stamford Canal (Paperback) by Keith Reginald Simpson (Editor)
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