Momentum is building behind the restoration of Norfolk's only locked wherry sailing canal, as work resumes following the lockdown.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker has paid a visit to the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, whose trust is working with landowners to restore the nine-mile long waterway between Antingham and Wayford Bridge.

Mr Baker met with trustees Graham Pressman and Ivan Cane, who told him about the ongoing restoration of the canal’s lock gates at Spa Common and Ebridge Mill, just east of North Walsham.

Mr Baker said he was impressed with the ongoing progress of the work.

He said: “The restoration work to the waterways and Ebridge lock was quite astounding.

"Just a few years ago this area looked completely different. But a team of volunteers and enthusiasts have restored the canal which is now enjoyed for water-sports, walkers and fishers.”

Eastern Daily Press: One of the locks on North Walsham and Dilham Canal trust.One of the locks on North Walsham and Dilham Canal trust. (Image: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust)

They said: "Much of our restoration work was put on hold over the last year due to coronavirus restrictions, whilst, at the same time, more and more people have been getting out and enjoying walking, canoeing, swimming and fishing on the canal. As the hard work of our volunteers resumes, it feels like there’s now a real momentum behind the restoration project.”

The canal was opened in 1826 to transport cargo, but it fell into disrepair after the arrival of the railway.

The canal: A potted history

1825: Construction on the canal was started by a team of 100 navvies from Bedford.

1826:The canal was opened, connecting Antingham, north west of North Walsham, to Wayford Bridge, west of Stalham. It was used by wherries transporting cargo to and form the communities and mills along its route.

After the railway network the canal gradually lost its purpose, and it became chocked with vegetation. Many stretches of the canal dried out and its locks and bridges crumbled.

2001: Volunteers from the East Anglian Waterways Association (EAWA) began restoration work on the canal, and this led to the formation of the canal's trust in 2008.

2018: The trust became a charity. The restored canal corridor has become a community asset and a tourist attraction.