Celebration to mark reopening of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal

Published: Wednesday, 05 June 2024

A CELEBRATION is to be held this month to mark 30 years since the reopening of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

Canal lovers in Somerset are marking 30 years since the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal was reopened, with a flotilla of boats and a celebration at the Somerset Boat Centre on the 8th and 9th of June.

BridgwaterTauntonTransported coal and iron

Connecting the towns of Bridgwater and Taunton, the 14½ miles waterway, under the Canal & River Trust, boasts nearly two centuries of history. Like many canals, it was once an important trade route that transported coal and iron from South Wales and agricultural produce out of the area until its commercial importance ended.

It discovered a new role as a water supply for the population of Bridgwater, a function it still provides today, but fell into decline before being painstakingly restored by Somerset County Council and British Waterways—now Canal & River Trust. Cutting through the Somerset countryside, it is now a popular spot for people to come and enjoy spending time by water and is a valuable home for wildlife.

FordGateBridgeA flotilla of up to 12 boats, organised by the Somerset Navigators Boat Club, will travel along the canal on the weekend of 8th and 9th June. Travelling from Bathpool to Maunsel Lock, the boats will moor at the Somerset Boat Centre for a party to celebrate the anniversary, which will include a competition to judge the boats that have been best decorated for the occasion.

Ford Gate Bridge pictured.

Money for charity

The celebration will also be raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Mark Evans, Regional Director at the Canal & River Trust, explained:

"This year marks a special milestone for the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal as it reaches the 30th anniversary of its reopening. Throughout history the canal has brought trade and prosperity to Somerset and today continues to play an important role for people and wildlife.

"It's fantastic that the Somerset Navigators Boat Club are going to be celebrating the anniversary with this event. It'll be a fantastic sight to see the flotilla cruising along the canal.

"The canal is the most southern on our 2,000-mile network across England and Wales. As a charity, our work today is focused on maintaining it for future generations, so they too can enjoy the benefits it brings, and we are committed to keeping canals such as the Bridgwater & Taunton alive."

SomersetSpaceWalkManaging flood water

The trust work all year round to maintain the canal for navigation, repairing lock gates, managing vegetation, and assisting the Environment Agency by using the canal to help manage flood water on the Somerset levels.

The canal was originally opened in 1827. It features seven locks and the unique Somerset Space Walk featuring a scale model of the sun at Maunsel Lock, with planets set along the towpath for six miles in both directions, demonstrating the scale of the solar system. (Pictured.)