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Chronology of the Leominster and Stourport canal

This chronology is taken from Canal, River & Railway - the Leominster Canal Part 2, by Gerry Calderbank and Martin Hudson

1777: Three canal navigation proposals are made, including Hereford to Stourport via Leominster. All are viewed by Robert Whitworth, whose report of 20th December 1777 appeared to favour the Woofferton to Tenbury to Newnham route.

1778: A meeting is held in London on 8th April 1778, which directed Whitworth to carry out a survey. On 7th August Whitworth reports on an incomplete survey which mentions Little Hereford and Stockton with a proposed tunnel of 1,528 yards.

1789: Public meetings and an announcement (on 16th August) of an application for a Parliamentary Bill. In December, T. Dadford Jnr reports on his proposed route and plan for a 31 mile canal with three tunnels at Pensax, Southnet and Putnall Field.

1790: On 20th January, an alternative plan is proposed for a canal from Leominster to join the intended Hereford - Gloucester Canal near the Lugg Bridge, Hereford. A public meeting on 4th January decides to proceed with the Stourport project and £18,000 is initially subscribed. A public meeting at Kington on 14th April requests a survey on a possible canal route from Leominster, uniting the two schemes to give a total canal length of 46 miles.

1791: Dadford's proposals and estimates are approved at a combined meeting on 27th February. A "combined" Act is passed. In July, amid reports of "spirited subscription", the construction begins.

1792: Thomas Dadford is appointed engineer of the Monmouthshire Canal in July - "on condition that he did not give more than one quarter of his time to the Leominster Canal".

1793: A boat named "Royal George" is launched at Tenbury Wharf in May. There is an abortive proposal by John Dadford to build a linking canal from Garthmyl on the Montgomery Canal - 40.25 miles - to Leominster via Montgomery, Chirbury, Bishops Castle, Hopesay, Onibury, Ludlow and Middleton to a junction using the Gosford (Teme) Aqueduct.

1794: On 20th January, the Leominster Canal is opened from just above Marlbrook to Woofferton with seven boat-loads of Sir Walter Blount's coal. Difficulties are reported with the Putnall Tunnel.

1795: In February the "Great Flood" destroys the Lugg and Wyson Aqueducts. The canal is extended from Woofferton to the north end of Putnall Tunnel and a portion cut from Leominster to the south end of the Putnall Tunnel. A special meeting is held concerning the Putnall Tunnel on 7th April; the tunnel remains incomplete in December. The partial collapse of the new but unused Southnet Tunnel and continuing difficulties with the Putnall Tunnel lead to consultation with John Rennie. His report, delivered in December, is highly critical of design, workmanship and supervision.

1796: Second Parliamentary Act is passed in April, authorising a further £180,000 of capital. July sees the completion of the Putnall Tunnel. December brings the completion of the entire section between Leominster and Marlbrook Wharves; the arrival of 14 boat-loads of Sir Walter Blount's coal halved the wharf-price at Leominster on the first day.

1797: The ceremonial cutting of the first sod (on 1st June - at Areley?) at the proposed site of the Severn Junction basin at the Stourport end.

1798: Money troubles are evident - several meetings are held later in the year.

1799: Meetings continue - the intention appears to be to seek further Act(s).

1800: A petition of claimants and creditors (for a Bill authorising payment of their debts) is urged by the Canal Company. Disaffected shareholders organise a Parliamentary petition against tramways and other proposed statutory measures, but to no avail.

1801: The intention repeated, plus a suggestion of Parliamentary powers to permit raising of tonnage dues when the Areley basin is operational.

1803: The funds are exhausted with little or no signs of any work east beyond the Dumbleton farm fragment. John Hodgkinson's pamphlet is published - when consulted in May he favoured tramways from Southnet to Stourport and Leominster to Kingsland Field. In August an Act of Authorisation is obtained but subscriptions are not forthcoming, there being little Leominster support.

1805: Proposals to open "new" coal and iron workings in the Pensax area with possible tramways to feed the canal.

1810: A proposal for a tramway from Clee Hill collieries to the canal.

1811: A decision is taken on 29th July to continue the line of the canal as far as Kingsland.

1812: The second Hodgkinson Consultation, Survey and Report. In August, the Leominster Canal Company advertises the intention of a canal or tramway via Martley to join the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Worcester.

1820: The opening of the Kington Tramroad from Brecon via Hay on 1st May kills off any real future prospects of extensions of the canal beyond Leominster towards Kington.

1824: Discussions on reorganisation and extension towards Stourport.

1826: An Act of Parliament is passed authorising further capital, but it is not effective.

1833: The proposal is revived for a railroad between Stourport and Rea Aqueduct, and surveyed by engineer Edward Powell.

1834: Survey and various routes are suggested by John U. Raistrick - the engineer to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Company - for a rail link to the River Severn. He also suggests the total conversion of the whole route into a railroad.

1837: Survey by Stephen Ballard (engineer to the Gloucester Canal) of possible connection with Gloucester involving canalisation of, or navigational improvement to, the River Lugg.

1838: The Leominster Canal Company offers to help in making the Hereford link, but the Gloucester Company finances do not permit such further commitment.

1841: Tenders are invited for the construction of a new aqueduct over the "River Letwych", near Burford.

1845: A meeting is held to consider the sale of the canal to the grandiose (and abortive) West Midland Railway. First overtures are received from the proprietors of the Shrewsbury & Herefordshire Railway.

1846: Two rival companies are formed for a proposed railway route linking Hereford and Shrewsbury. Negotiations are opened with the Shrewsbury & Herefordshire Railway Company regarding the sale of the canal for £12,000.

1847: An Act of Parliament is obtained authorising the sale of the canal.

1852: The apparent acceptance by the railway company of the sale fee (after much delay and pressure by the canal company). The Railway Company seems to be in favour of extending a branch line towards Tenbury.

1855: Pressure in June from a deputation of the canal company for the completion of the sale. The Board of the Railway Company resolves that the sale be left in the hands of the person who had been dealing with the matter - Mr. J. J. Peele, Solicitor.

1856: In January, Peele reports that a "Bill in Chancery" has been filed against them for a specific performance of the alleged agreement to purchase, which is answered in March. The Canal Company's Bill seeks payment of £12,000, with interest from 1st January 1847! The Bill is dismissed on a mere technicality - that two Directors of the Railway had not signed the agreement - but the Canal Company threatens to appeal, and the Shrewsbury & Herefordshire Railway is shamed into the completion of the original deal. (A £12,000 sale figure, without interest, is later agreed.)

1857: The Shrewsbury & Herefordshire Railway has little use for the main alignment between Leominster and Woofferton, which is to be disposed of, but Mr. Peele approaches Sir Edward Blount regarding the possible increase in coal production at Mamble, without satisfaction. This dissuades the Railway Company from any thoughts of further development of the Teme Valley section.

1858: Completion of the sale of the canal on 25th March. Public notices advertise first the acquisition, and then the intention to discontinue the canal as from 19th June 1858. An early sale of the section between Leominster and Woofferton is decided in June.

1859: Arrangements are made to let off the canal water and pay off residential staff by June. Some land is sold to Lord Rodney of Berrington Hall in July.

1860: Tenbury & Bewdley Railway makes a bid for a portion of the canal between Burford and Newnham Bridge; £548 is paid for this.

1861: The last written record of a sale of canal land, to a Mrs Carless. Verbal accounts of other disposal continue, such as the fishponds at Marlbrook.