Caistor Canal

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Caistor Canal
Water flowing over the weir and through the derelict chamber of Moor lock. The stonework is still in remarkably good condition.
Locks 6
Status Derelict but largely extant
Original owner Caistor Canal Navigation Company
Principal engineer Robert Dickenson
Date of act 1793
Date of first use 1800
Date closed 1855
Start point Moortown
End point River Ancholme
Caistor Canal
River Ancholme
River Ancholme towpath bridge
Beck End lock
Ings lock
Willow lock
Brigg Road, South Kelsey
South Kelsey basin
Mill lock
Moor lock
B1205 and Jervis Bridge
infilled section
Moortown lock
Moortown wharf
B1434 Bridge, Moortown
Nettleton Beck

The Caistor Canal was a 4-mile (6.4 km) canal in Lincolnshire, England, constructed between 1793 and 1798. It fell into disuse sometime after 1850 and was legally abandoned in 1936. It ran from the River Ancholme, near South Kelsey toward Caistor through six locks, terminating at Moortown, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away from its intended terminus at Caistor.[1] Parts of it were dredged in 2010, to aid flood defences in South Kelsey.


Water transport to the area served by the Caistor Canal was improved as a result of work carried out on the River Ancholme between 1767 and 1769. The Caistor Canal was therefore conceived in July 1792 as a feeder to the river, enabling boats to reach the market town of Caistor, some 8 miles (13 km) to the east. An initial meeting was called by a Mr Hall on 3 July 1792, at which it was decided to ask the canal engineer William Jessop to prepare a survey of the route. His plans were considered by the Ancholme Navigation Commissioners, in order to assess the risks of flooding caused by such a proposal.[2] As they did not oppose the plans, the canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament passed on 3 June 1793, which created the Caistor Canal Navigation Company, with powers to raise £15,000 in £100 shares to construct the canal, and an additional £10,000 if required.[3] The potential for flooding was to be mitigated by routing the local springs into the head of the canal. Robert Dickinson acted as engineer for the scheme.[2]

Traffic consisted of coal inward, agricultural produce leaving the area, and general goods. There were six locks, which lowered the level of the canal by 42 feet (13 m). The Act authorised the building of the canal to Caistor, and a lane was constructed from the town centre to the site of the proposed basin, but the construction stopped at Moortown, some 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the west. It is likely that financial problems were the reason for this, as the company borrowed £4,600 from Francis Foljambe, one of the principal promoters of the canal and the major landowner on its route, in 1798, and income from the tolls was not sufficient even to pay the interest, for there were £574 of arrears on the loan by 1813.[2]

Soon after it opened, there were proposals to extend the canal to Market Rasen, but no further action was taken.[2] The canal appears to have become disused in the 1850s, but some traffic may have continued to South Kelsey, the village at its midpoint until some years later. It was formally abandoned with the passing of the Caistor Canal Act Revocation Order made in 1936 under the land drainage act.[4]

Mill lock was the site of a water mill from the 1870s until a little before the First World War. The mill was built on the south bank of the lock, with the wheel in the lock chamber. The lock name is thought to derive from a previous windmill near the site, rather than the corn mill, which was not built until the canal was disused.[5]

Number of locks[edit]

There were originally six locks on the canal, according to Priestley.[3] Boyes and Russell acknowledge that Priestley thought there were six, but state that he was wrong and that there were only five.[2] However, the 1824 old series 2-inch map shows and labels the final lock just to the west of Moorhouse basin. By the time of the 1887 County series 25-inch maps, the final basin and the canal to the west of the lock are still shown, but there is a break in the canal where the lock was, so it appears to have been filled in by then.[6]


Parts of the channel were dredged in 2010 to improve flood defences.

The canal is no longer navigable, and is maintained by the Environment Agency as a main drainage channel. The remains of the lower five lock chambers and the abutments of the tow-path bridge where the River Ancholme towpath crossed the canal are now grade II listed structures.[7] Despite being closed, two narrowboats successfully reached the first lock in 2002.[8]

As a response to the flooding of homes in South Kelsey during the summer of 2007, the Environment Agency dredged part of the canal to return it to its original depth in March 2010. Around 1 mile (1.6 km) of the bed, between the locks either side of South Kelsey village, was affected by the work, which increases the capacity of the watercourse and reduces the risk of future flooding. The channel had been impeded by several sand bars that had developed, and these were removed as part of the project. Environmental consultants assisted with the work, to ensure that the resident population of water voles were not harmed by the operation.[9]


See also[edit]