Joseph Priestly Dorset & Somerset Canal

Joseph Priestly Dorset & Somerset Canal

Historical Account of the Navigable Rivers and Canals and Railways of Great Britain – Joseph Priestly 1831


Dorset & Somerset Canal


36 George III. Cap. 47, Royal Assent 24th March, 1795.
43 George III. Cap. 108, Royal Assent 4th July. 1803.

The line of this projected canal commences from the navigable River Stour, at Gains Cross, in the parish of Shillingston Okeford, and county of Dorset, whence it proceeds in a north-westwardly direction by the towns of Sturminster Newton, Stalbridge, and within a mile of Wincanton, whence it takes a northerly course, crossing the River Frome two miles north-west of Bruton; whence, along its western bank, and by Marston House to Frome, where it again crosses the river, and follows its course by the village of Road to the Kennet and Avon Canal at Widbrook, near the town of Bradford. A branch proceeds from Frome, by a very circuitous course, to the collieries at Nettle Bridge, situate near the eastern termination of the Mendip Hills.

The royal assent was given to an act for making this canal an the 24th of March, 1796, which is entitled, ‘ An Act for making a navigable Canal from or near Gains Cross, in the parish of Shillingston Okeford, in the county of Dorset, to communicate with the Kennet and Avon Canal at or near Widbrook, in the county of Wilts ; and also a certain navigable Branch from the intended Canal.’ The subscribers to this undertaking were incorporated by the name of ” The Company of Proprietors of the ” Dorset and Somerset Navigation,” and empowered to raise among themselves the sum of £150,000, in fifteen hundred shares of £100 each, and an additional sum of £75,000, either by the admission of new subscribers, or on mortgage of the undertaking. Although another act was obtained in 1803, entitled, ‘ An Act for enabling the Company of Proprietors of the Dorset and Somerset Canal Navigation to raise a further Sum of Money towards completing the said Canal, and for altering and amending an Act passed in the Thirty-sixth Year of the Reign of his present Majesty, for making and maintaining the said Navigation,’ yet it does not appear that any portion of the main line of canal was ever executed. A portion of the Nettle Bridge Branch was excavated ; and upon a fall of 21 feet at Mells, near Frome, one of Fusell’s balance locks was erected, and publicly tried on the 6th of September and 13th of October, with vessels of ten tons burthen; but, in consequence of the abandonment of the works generally, it never came into useful operation. The parliamentary line of this canal was forty miles in length, and the branch nine miles

The chief object proposed by the projectors of this scheme, was to open an inland communication between the mining and manufacturing districts of Somerset, Gloucester, and Wilts with the English Channel and the agricultural counties of Dorset and Hants.