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WHITMINSTER

Map of the canal at Whitminster

Features on the map will be numbered to link with numbers in the text below.

The Stroudwater Canal closely follows the River Frome though Whitminster, and Whitminster Lock (1) mirrors the change in river level associated with the former Whitminster Mill (2 marks the site).

The original plan was for the canal to use part of the river channel for a short distance to the south-east, but during construction, it was decided instead to build a low aqueduct (off map) to keep the canal separate from the river.

A weir (3) to the east of Whitminster Lock originally allowed water to be drawn from the river to feed the canal when required. The owner of nearby Whitminster House (4), Richard Owen Cambridge, agreed to this although he did have some concern about loss of water affecting the working of the mill.

Supplying water to the canal became a big issue in the 1830s, when increasing traffic on what is now known as the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal led to a demand for more water from the Frome. After many discussions and some physical confrontations, an Act of Parliament authorised a significant extraction of water via settling tanks (4), and the mill closed down.

Walk Bridge (5) was originally hump-backed, but as road traffic increased, the steep approaches were considered a hazard, and it was replaced by a swing-bridge.

One mile to the south-east, the line of the canal is crossed by the Bristol Road, where there was a coal wharf to the west and a lock to the east.

When navigation of the Stroudwater Canal was abandoned in 1954, the section from Whitminster Lock to Saul Junction was taken over by British Waterways as it was still required to feed water to the Sharpness Canal - and it continues to do so today. The aqueduct was eliminated by river improvement work.