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HER Number:MDV4
Name:Bude Canal - Alfardisworthy Branch


Alfardisworthy Branch of the Bude Canal


Grid Reference:SS 296 088
Map Sheet:SS20NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishPancrasweek
Ecclesiastical ParishPANCRASWEEK
Ecclesiastical ParishSUTCOMBE

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Section of the Bude Canal and post medieval farm buildings at Puckland Farm
  • SHINE: Virworthy Mill and associated buildings dating to the 19th century or earlier, and section of line of the former Alfardisworthy branch of the 19th century Bude Canal
  • SHINE: Section of the Bude Aqueduct, part of the Alfardishworthy branch of the 19th century Bude Canal
  • SHINE: Section of the disused Bude Canal marked on nineteenth century mapping, south-west of Dunsdon

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS20NE/501
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CANAL (XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1907, 49NE (Cartographic). SDV7656.

"Bude Aqueduct" marked on OS 6" (1907) and 6" (1963) maps runs from SS28120659 to SS30000887

Harris, H. + Ellis, M., 1972, Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV7652.

Notable for its use of inclined planes. Closed in 1902.

Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 6 (Monograph). SDV7016.

The Bude Canal (Alfardisworthy Branch). The longest tub-boat canal in England, the Bude Canal was built by James Green and opened in 1825. It has three branches. There is a path along the Alfardisworthy Branch from Tamar Lake to Pancrasweek.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 109 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Canal designed to transport large volumes of lime and sea-sand into the agricultural hinterland of N. Devon. Built 1819-23. This branch ran to Tamar Lake (see 49991), which was the canal's water store. Finally closed after 1898 arrival of railway in Bude.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1990, An Archaeological Assessment of the SWW Holsworthy to Hersham Pipeline (Report - Assessment). SDV336548.

The canal was intersected by the pipe corridor of the Holsworthy - Hersham water main 700m west of the River Tamar at circa SS256055 (in Cornwall). The top 1.5 metres fill of the canal showed in the pipe-trench. This revealed that the channel was 10 metres wide at the top. The height of the silt fill suggests the silting up was well advanced before the canal was abandoned and infilled. The canal had lost most of its traffic by 1885 but was re-opened for a short period in the 1890s to carry construction materials for the Bude - Holsworthy railway. The clay capping may have formed revetment banks originally which were slighted after its closure.

Reed, S. J. + Weddell, P. J., 1990, Archaeological Recording on the SWW Holsworthy to Hersham water main, 3 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV7655.

Dawson, T., 1995, Archaeological assessment of proposed remedial works at SWW Tamar Lakes reservoir, 5, 6 (Report - Assessment). SDV8152.

The canal from Bude into the hinterland of North Devon and Cornwall was the longest tub boat canal in the country and used the most inclined planes. It was first proposed in an act of 1774, (14 Geo III C. Bude canal act), when a 91-mile route was proposed. The reason for building the canal was to supply shelly sand from many North Devon and Cornish beaches to inland farmers. The sand, rich in calcium carbonate, was used as a soil conditioner and made a good alternative to the use of lime. It was not until 1817 that a survey was made, by Thomas Shearm and James Green (fig.4), the results of which were presented on the '5th day of April, 1818'. The 'report of the committee appointed to conduct a survey of the proposed lines of canal from Bude. ' estimated that the total cost of building all the branches of the canal and the reservoir would be e128,341. In 1819, an Act, (59 Geo III C.55 Bude Harbour and Canal Act) was passed and work commenced. The final length of the canal was 35.5 miles. A wide barge canal was built from Bude to Helebridge. This could take boats fifty feet long, thirteen feet wide and with a capacity of twenty tons. The rest of the canal, from Helebridge to Blagdonmoor Wharf, near Holsworthy, with a feeder from the Tamar Lake and a branch to Druxton, near Launceston, was intended for narrow tub boats. These were twenty feet long, five feet six inches wide and had a draught of one foot six. They could carry a load of four tons. Due to the hilly terrain encountered on the inland route from Bude Haven (a rise of over 330 feet from Bude to Red Post) six inclined planes were built to raise and lower the boats, as well as three locks. In order to negotiate the inclined planes, the tub boats were fitted with wheels. These were manoeuvred directly onto rails rather than using cradles to winch the boats up. The Holsworthy line, the feeder from the reservoir and the Launceston line to Tamerton Bridge were finished in 1823 and opened on the 8th of July of that year. The Launceston line to Druxton was completed by 1824, but the canal was never as successful as originally planned. The Bude Harbour and Canal company did not post their first profit until 1876. However, in 1864 the Launceston and South Devon railway was opened, extending the rail link from Plymouth to Launceston and the canal's days were numbered. This was due not just competition with the railways, which increased with the opening of the Holsworthy branch of the London and South Western railway in 1879, but also to an increased use of artificial fertilisers and lime by farmers in the 1880's. The Bude Harbour and Canal (further powers) Act (54 and 55 Vict C.75) was passed in July 1891, authorising the abandonment of the branches from Red Post to Drafton and Brendon Moor Junction to Blagdonmoor. In 1901, the Bude Harbour and Canal Abandonment Act (I Ed VII C.28) was passed and in 1902 what remained of the canal company's assets were sold to Stratton Rural District Council in 1902. Much of the canal's length was sold to landlords whose lands bordered the canal, and the canal was backfilled in many places.

Atkins, W. S., 1998, Bude Canal Strategic Study (Report - Assessment). SDV340325.

Halcrow, 2000, Bude Canal Strategic Study Phase 2 - Draft Report (Report - Survey). SDV340326.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336548Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1990. An Archaeological Assessment of the SWW Holsworthy to Hersham Pipeline. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.21. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV340325Report - Assessment: Atkins, W. S.. 1998. Bude Canal Strategic Study. North Cornwall District Council. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV340326Report - Survey: Halcrow. 2000. Bude Canal Strategic Study Phase 2 - Draft Report. North Cornwall District Council. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 109.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 6.
SDV7652Monograph: Harris, H. + Ellis, M.. 1972. The Bude Canal. Unknown.
SDV7655Report - Watching Brief: Reed, S. J. + Weddell, P. J.. 1990. Archaeological Recording on the SWW Holsworthy to Hersham water main. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 90.22. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV7656Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1907. 49NE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV8152Report - Assessment: Dawson, T.. 1995. Archaeological assessment of proposed remedial works at SWW Tamar Lakes reservoir. Exeter Archaeology Report. 95.25. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5, 6.

Associated Monuments

MDV74402Related to: Barn at Virworthy Wharf, Sutcombe (Monument)
MDV66Related to: Bude Canal - Alfardisworthy Branch (Monument)
MDV5Related to: Bude Canal - Holsworthy Branch (Monument)
MDV49991Related to: Lower Tamar Lake (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 25 2019 8:27AM