The canal was built in the 1770s to help bring coal to the Stroud valley which was an important centre for the manufacture of fine woollen cloth. It ran for eight miles from Framilode on the River Severn to a terminal basin at Wallbridge, Stroud. It soon took on another role when the Thames & Severn Canal continued the line to the River Thames near Lechlade in 1789, completing an inland waterways route between the West Midlands and London. The canal flourished in the nineteenth century, closed in the 20th and is now being reopened for leisure uses in the 21st century. For a short history of the canal, visit Short History.
In the eighteenth century, most inland waterways had been formed by making rivers navigable by the construction of locks, and they were known as navigations. When inland waterways were built independent of any river, many were also referred to formally as navigations, but even from the start they were commonly called canals. For this website, the waterway will normally be referred to as a canal, but the word navigation will still be retained in the name of the owning company which is still in existence.
This Company was set up in 1774 to build the canal linking Stroud to the River Severn, and its remarkably complete archive is now held at Gloucestershire Archives under the finding Reference D1180. It is from this archive that the information presented in this website has been selected. As the formal name of the Company is so long, it is commonly abbreviated to Stroudwater Navigation Company or Stroudwater Company depending on the context.
This group (known as SNAC) was set up by the Stroudwater Company to make their archive more available for studying the lives of people connected with the canal in the past. Volunteer members of the group have prepared summaries, made extracts and photographed documents for presentation on this website.
The forerunner of this charitable trust was set up in 1972 to promote the restoration of the Stroudwater and Thames & Severn Canals. Hard work by thousands of volunteers showed that restoration was feasible, and financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stroud District Council led to a section of canal being restored through Stroud.
This new project, involving the above organisations and others, aims to reconnect the first restored section of the Stroudwater Canal through Stroud to the national network at Saul Junction, and to use the material in this website to enrich the lives of local people.
Two sections of this website feature historical information about Places along the Stroudwater Canal and aspects of Canal Life during the period of commercial operation. A third section presents interesting Stories about people and events associated with the canal and some in-depth Studies already carried out. For those wanting to do their own research, the website includes summaries, images and extracts of selected documents from the Stroudwater Archive that contain important information that it would be difficult for researchers to access without a finding aid. This website also includes pages suggesting how users can Get Involved in personal, educational and community projects relating to Stroudwater History. Whilst much care has been taken in preparing the material, the work has not been double checked, and if any errors are identified, please notify the Website Team so they can be corrected.
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