New book about Halesworth Navigation published

A MODERN transport system to link Halesworth to London and the north was exactly what was in the minds of a group of local people two and a half centuries ago, when they met to discuss plans to bring a canal to the area.

And now to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the opening of the Navigation, Halesworth and District Museum curator Mike Fordham has written a booklet 'Halesworth Quay and the Blyth Navigation'.

Back in 1753, the plan was to widen and deepen the River Blyth from Blythburgh up to Halesworth so that boats of 20 or 30 tons could carry their produce down to Southwold, to be transferred to sea-going vessels and carried on to the great markets of England, mainly London.

In return, coal and other material could be brought into the town and distributed to the surrounding area.

So sure of success were they that they raised the money for the scheme among themselves and by 1761 the Blyth Navigation, complete with locks and quays, was opened for business.

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Mr Fordham said: 'We wanted to make sure that, in this year of all years, we paid tribute to the enterprising and adventurous spirit of our Halesworth ancestors. The town would certainly not be what it is today if the Navigation had not been built by them. We owe it to them to remember the achievement.'

There is little sign left today of the work and trade dwindled and died once the railways arrived, but there are still traces of where locks once stood today.

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- The booklet is available at the museum, Halesworth Library, Halesworth Book Shop and at other local outlets, priced �2.50.

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