Rolle Canal

Rolle Canal

The Rolle Canal (also known as the Torrington Canal) in North Devon, England runs 6 miles from Landcross, where it joins the River Torridge, to the limekilns at Rosemoor.Lost canals and Waterways of Britain "Ronald Russell" page 96 ISBN 0-7153-8072-9] It has one sea lock at Landcross, an inclined plane at Weare Giffard – to raise it 60 feet – and a five arch aqueduct (known as the Beam Aqueduct) over the River Torridge."Industrial Archaeology" Aids to recording (6) page 76]

The canal's construction was started as a private venture in 1823 by John Rolle, the then Baron Rolle. In this the canal is unusual as no Act of Parliament had to be obtained. The idea for the canal was originally proposed by his father Denys Rolle but for various reasons nothing had come of those plans. James Green was employed as the lead engineer.Lost canals of England and Wales "Ronald Russell" page 79 ISBN 0-7153-5417-5] The Baron Rolle laid the foundation stone of the aqueduct in an event marked by the firing of a cannon. The cannon burst, resulting in the injury of a man by the name of John Hopgood, who the Baron compensated with a year's salary.Lost canals and Waterways of Britain "Ronald Russell" page 96 ISBN 0-7153-8072-9]

Completed in 1827 it was used to carry limestone and coal for the kilns as far inland as possible and to carry Marland clay to the port of Bideford for export. The canal cost between £40,000 and £45,000 to construct."Industrial Archaeology" Aids to recording (6) page 76] The canal shared many of its design features with the Bude Canal, unsurprisingly as the Bude Canal had been part of the inspiration for the scheme and the projects shared the same lead engineer. Similarities include the use of trains of tub boats and the use of canal inclined planes rather than locks. The inclined plane was powered by a water wheel.

The aqueduct is referred to as the canal bridge in Henry Williamson's "Tarka the Otter". The Country Canal "Ronald Russell" ISBN 0-7153-9169-0 Page 124]

Around 1852 the canal was leased to George Braginton who among other things held the position of Mayor of Torrington a number of times. Exactly when the lease ended is uncertain but certainly at a date no later than 1865.The Canals of Southwest England "Charles Hadfield" Page 139-140 ISBN 0-7153-8645-X] With the lease ended the control of the canal passed to the then owner Mark Rolle (the nephew of the second wife of John Rolle).

In 1871 the canal was closed and sold to the London and South Western Railway to make way for the railway from Bideford to Torrington. At one point the railway company wished to abandon the project but at Mark Rolle's insistence the railway was built.cite book |title=The Illustrated History of Canal & River Navigations 3rd edition |last=Paget-Tomlinson |first=Edward |year= 2006|publisher=Landmark Publishing Ltd |isbn=1843062070 |pages=pp189 ]

Some parts of the canal are still visible today, including the aqueduct (now a viaduct), the sea lock (although without any gates) and some parts of the inclined plane. Part of the railway alignment is now a cyclepath. Some work on the sea lock was carried out in 2006. The Annery kiln lies close to the old canal and can be seen from the Tarka Trail.


External links

* [ The Rolle Canal & Northern Devon Waterways Society]

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