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HER Number:MDV445
Name:Torrington or Rolle Canal


Torrington Canal, also known as Rolle Canal was built between 1823 and 1827. It ran from a lock on the River Torridge in Landcross parish and broadly followed the river south to a canal basin adjacent to Taddiport Bridge. It closed in the early 1870s. Part was then used for the route of the North Devon Railway and part for Rolle Road.


Grid Reference:SS 479 208
Map Sheet:SS42SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishGreat Torrington
Civil ParishLandcross
Civil ParishMonkleigh
Civil ParishWeare Giffard
Ecclesiastical ParishFRITHELSTOCK
Ecclesiastical ParishGREAT TORRINGTON
Ecclesiastical ParishLANDCROSS
Ecclesiastical ParishMONKLEIGH
Ecclesiastical ParishWEARE GIFFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: NRHE33158
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS41NE/19
  • Pastscape: 33158

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CANAL (Built, XIX - 1823 AD to 1827 AD)

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SS42SE12 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV340741.

Torrington canal. SS45892334 - SS47752000. Built 1823-1827 to carry limestone to Torrington.

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

Canal depicted.

Colby, F. T., 1875, The History of Great Torrington, 99 (Article in Serial). SDV19181.

Hadfield, C., 1967, Canals of South West England, 135-141 (Monograph). SDV58.

The canal went from the lock in Landcross parish and roughly followed the river south of Great Torrington and ended at New Manor Mill a mile above the town. The main purpose of the canal was to carry coal from South Wales via Appledore or Bideford. Coal was also imported and agricultural produce sent away. The canal was closed about 1870 to allow for the construction of the Bideford-Torrington stretch of the North Devon Railway. Part of the canal was used for the railway line, part was turned into a toll road called Rolle Road, and some parts became derelict.

Hughes, B. D., 1970, Aids to Recording (6). The Rolle Canal, 75-83 (Article in Serial). SDV19175.

Torrington or Rolle Canal. SS47752000-SS50001703. A tub boat canal linking Torrington with the navigable part of the River Torridge at SS45882330 (see SS42SE/46). It was built (largely financed by Lord Rolle) between 1823 and 1827, with James Green as engineer. It was 4 meters wide and 0.18 meters deep, only just wide enough for two boats to pass; each tug could carry about 4 tons of material, this being limestone on the inward journey, which was delivered to various kilns along the canal but more particularly to the newly built works at Torrington. The barges carried ball clay, leather, timber and building materails on their return journey. Features on the canal included an inclined plane and the beam aquaduct. The course of the canal is still traceable, though some parts obscured by the railway built in 1871-1872.

Cook, R. M. L., 1971, Second Report of the Industrial Archaeology Section, 250-251 (Article in Serial). SDV19178.

Minchinton, W. E., 1976, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 7 (Monograph). SDV7016.

Hunt, P. J., 1989, Torrington, 15 (Report - non-specific). SDV352248.

Bissett, A. J., 1991, A Mid-Victorian Street, 21-23 (Article in Serial). SDV19185.

Exeter Archaeology, 1999, Archaeological Assessment of SWW Rothernbridge to Brynsworthy Water Main: Stage 1 (Rothernbridge to Gammaton Moor), 4 (Report - Assessment). SDV449.

Bristol and Region Archaeological Services, 2006, Archaeological Desk-based Assessment of Land at Rolle Road Industrial Estate, Great Torrington, 8 (Report - Assessment). SDV339538.

University of Southampton, 2018, North Devon Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment, No. 121 (Interpretation). SDV361978.

Torrington Canal

National Monuments Record, 2019, Pastscape, 33158 (Website). SDV362732.

In 1823 Lord Rolle began the Torrington (or Rolle) Canal at his own expense and without Parliamentary authority, with James Green as his engineer. The canal began at a river lock and basin and, after a stretch of nearly a mile, the canal rose by single inclined plane (SS 463224 on 1809 Ordnance Survey 1 inch map) with a double track powered by a waterwheel, which took small tub-boats with wheels. It followed the curve of the river Torridge to Beam where a very fine classical stone aqueduct (SS 473209) carried it across the river to the limekilns at Taddiport, to end at New Manor Mill (now Town Mills - SS500183) where there was a canal basin. The main purpose of the canal was to carry limestone and coal from South Wales and to export agricultural produce. It opened in February 1827 and closed down probably in 1871 when much of its course was used by the South West Railway Company's line opened in July 1872. The upper part of the canal from Torrington Station to New Manor Mill was converted into Rolle Road and the aqueduct at Beam became a private drive.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV19175Article in Serial: Hughes, B. D.. 1970. Aids to Recording (6). The Rolle Canal. Industrial Archaeology. 7. Photocopy + Digital. 75-83.
SDV19178Article in Serial: Cook, R. M. L.. 1971. Second Report of the Industrial Archaeology Section. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 103. A5 Paperback. 250-251.
SDV19181Article in Serial: Colby, F. T.. 1875. The History of Great Torrington. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 7. A5 Hardback. 99.
SDV19185Article in Serial: Bissett, A. J.. 1991. A Mid-Victorian Street. North Devon Heritage Journal. 3. Unknown. 21-23.
SDV339538Report - Assessment: Bristol and Region Archaeological Services. 2006. Archaeological Desk-based Assessment of Land at Rolle Road Industrial Estate, Great Torrington. Bristol and Region Archaeological Services Report. 1637/2006. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8.
SDV340741Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SS42SE12. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital. [Mapped feature: #116369 ]
SDV352248Report - non-specific: Hunt, P. J.. 1989. Torrington. Devon County Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 15.
SDV361978Interpretation: University of Southampton. 2018. North Devon Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. RCZAS. Digital. No. 121.
SDV362732Website: National Monuments Record. 2019. Pastscape. https://www.pastscape.org.uk/. Website. 33158.
SDV449Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1999. Archaeological Assessment of SWW Rothernbridge to Brynsworthy Water Main: Stage 1 (Rothernbridge to Gammaton Moor). Exeter Archaeology Report. 99.90. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4.
SDV58Monograph: Hadfield, C.. 1967. Canals of South West England. Canals of South West England. A5 Hardback. 135-141.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 7.

Associated Monuments

MDV11820Parent of: Rolle Canal, Sea Locks, Landcross, Torridge (Monument)
MDV553Parent of: Torrington Canal at Annery Kiln (Monument)
MDV532Related to: Annery Limekilns, Monkleigh (Monument)
MDV18808Related to: Beam Aqueduct, Monkleigh (Monument)
MDV18802Related to: Great Torrington, Canal Company Industrial Complex (Monument)
MDV14286Related to: Great Torrington, Limekiln (Monument)
MDV18798Related to: Great Torrington, Rolle Toll Road (Monument)
MDV546Related to: Inclined Plane on the Torrington Canal near Weare Gifford (Monument)
MDV16952Related to: LIME KILN in the Parish of Great Torrington (Monument)
MDV11846Related to: LIME KILN in the Parish of Monkleigh (Monument)
MDV12453Related to: Monkleigh, Annery Pottery (Monument)
MDV18800Related to: New Bridge, Little Torrington (Monument)
MDV18804Related to: New Town Mills Leat, Great Torrington (Monument)
MDV14285Related to: Rolle Canal Basin (Monument)
MDV18809Related to: Town Mills Leat Weir (Monument)
MDV14289Related to: Town Mills or Orford Mill, Great Torrington (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3554 - Archaeological Assessment of SWW Rothernbridge to Brynsworthy Water Main> Stage 1 (Rothernbridge to Gammaton Moor)
  • EDV4315 - Archaeological Assessment of Land at Rolle Road Industrial Estate

Date Last Edited:Feb 28 2023 3:30PM