SEE THE MEETINGS PAGE FOR DETAILS OF MEETINGS COMING UP
On 26th August 2012 an event was held at Coltishall Common to comemmorate the Aylsham Navigation and to remember the flood which destroyed it exactly 100 years previously.
The photographer who took the picture above was Margaret Bird who has spent many years researching and bringing to publication the diaries of Mary Hardy who was a witness to the opening of the Navigation. Margarets view of the event can be read here along with more details of the diaries.
OWN A COPY OF OUR VERY OWN DVD “A WHERRY FOR AYLSHAM” click here for details.
The vision is to raise the profile of our beautiful river, to identify and protect its history and wildlife in such a way that it remains available for the generations that follow to enjoy.
This community project plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the closure of the Aylsham Navigation. The waterway closed in August 1912 after heavy floods washed out the 5 locks between the current head of navigation on the River Bure (part of the Broads) at Coltishall and the town of Aylsham. The waterway had been in existence since 1779. The Act authorising its construction (George 111 c.37) received royal assent on 7th April 1773.
The waterway served the communities of Coltishall, Horstead, Hautbois, Buxton, Oxnead, Brampton, Burgh and Aylsham itself. Along its banks were a number of staithes (local term for dock or landing stage) and Mills. The locks at Coltishall, Buxton, Oxnead, Burgh and Aylsham were mostly designed to get around pre-existing Mill streams. The purpose of the waterway was mostly the transport of agricultural produce away from the area but return loads were varied from coal to state of the art (for the time) consumer goods. The tonnage rates varied depending on the commodity but broadly speaking was 1 shilling per ton for goods such as coal and building materials carried upstream and 1 shilling and 6 pence (old money) for agricultural produce downstream.
The Navigation utilised the River Bure for most of its 9.5 miles from Coltishall but some canal cuts were put in place to facilitate ease of navigation. The final cut in to Aylsham itself was filled in during the 1970′s and the site of Aylsham Staithe is now a housing development (called The Staithe).
Bradshaw’s Canals and Navigable Rivers of England & Wales (1904) states that the Aylsham Navigation was suitable for maximum size vessels as under.
From Coltishall Lock to below Buxton Lamas Lock:
Width 13ft 9in
Draught 3ft 6in
From Buxton Lamas Lock to Aylsham:
Width 12ft 8in
Draught 3ft 6in
Headroom at Burgh Bridge 6ft 4in.
When the flood came on August 26th 1912 all of the locks and some of the bridges (including the one between Coltishall and Horstead) were washed out. The navigation was already in decline as the coming of the railways in the 1880′s had dramatically cut the trade. After the flood the Navigation was never re-opened. Trading wherries caught upstream were abandoned with the exception of the Zulu which was man-hauled around the obstructions to gain her freedom.
The waterway was formally abandoned in November 1928.
The Project plans to identify and record what remains of the history of the navigation and also the wildlife of this spectacular river. It also plans to hold a commemoration of the navigation in some form as close to 100 years from the date as possible. More details will be published here as they become known. We also plan to identify and describe walks that will enable others to responsibly (and with respect to land owners) enjoy the river, it’s history, scenery and wildlife.
The project consists of participating groups who will each be undertaking their own aspects of the work sometimes alone and sometimes in collaboration.
If you or a group you represent feel that you would like to get involved please let us know (see the useful links down the right hand side of the page).