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The Bude Canal

The Bude Canal was first proposed in 1774 and an Act was passed in May of that year. The idea was to link the Bristol and English Channels via the River Tamar. Bude sand, Welsh Coal, limestone, manure, timber, mining products, agricultural produce and domestic supplies were to be the cargoes. However it took until 1819 for work to being on the canal when Lord Stanhope laid the first stone of the harbour breakwater and cut the first sod of the canal basin. In July 1823 the canal officially opened. In 1823 and 1824 the canal needed loans to complete the works but by then 100 boats we already working on the canal. Work was completed in 1825 with a total cost of £120,000. In 1884 one of the main merchants stopped trading and efectively ended the canals commercial future. In 1891 there was an Act of Parliament abandoning some sections of the canal, but keeping the harbour. In 1902 the canal was handed over to the council, sea trade coninued. Sand traffic stopped in the 1940s and coal trade stopped in 1964.

The River Lock is big enough to let sea going ships into the basins. The first 2 miles of canal up to Marhamchurch is barge canal. The rest was designed for tub boats. Altogether the final completed canal was 35 and a half miles. Inclined planes were used to raise the wheeled tub boats up the hillsides. There were six altogether at Marhamchurch, Hobbacott Down, Vealand, Merrifield, Tamerton, and Werrington. The planes were water powered with a bucket-in-a-well system or waterwheels to pull wheeled boats up a metal rail track.

The Beach | Sea Lock | Rodds Bridge Lock | Whalesborough Lock | Hele Bridge | Incline Plane
Click the photographs to see larger images and more information
Summerleaze Beach

The first breakwater was built in 1819, after its destruction during a storm in 1838 it was replaced with the current one. The break water shelters the canal and sea lock. The sea sand from the beach is now popular with tourists but it was the main cargo on the canal. The lime rich sand was transported inland and used to improve the soil. A tramway came down to the beach where horse drawn wagons were filled with sand. The loaded wagons went up to the canal where the sand was transhipped to tub boats.

The beach at Bude Bude Beach railway
The Breakwater The Sands The Sand Tramway
Sea Lock

The sea lock allowed boats and ships to lock from the sea into the canal basin to be loaded and unloaded more easily than if they simply beached themselves on the shore.

The Sea Lock Bude Harbour Break Water at Bude The Sea Lock Bude
Sea Lock Sea Lock & Breakwater Lock Gates Sea Lock
The Sea Lock Bude Lobster Pots by The Sea Lock Bude The Lower Wharf The lower wharf
Sea Lock Lobster Pots Lower Wharf Lower Wharf
  The old life boat house by Falcon Bridge Bude The upper wharf, Bude Canal The upper wharf, Bude Canal
  Old Life Boat House Upper Wharf Upper Wharf
Canal Living Barge Canal Walkers Sign Post Waymarker
Along the canal Along the canal Mile Post
1 Mile to Bude
Rodds Bridge
Rodds Bridge Lock

Rodds bridge lock is the first lock along the canal after the sea lock. It has been refurbished and is in good condition complete with wooden gates and new winding gear. Because of the low bridges no barges will be able to use the lock.

Approaching the lock The new gates New winding gear A full canal
Whalesborough Lock

The second lock on the barge canal is Whalesborough Lock. It was refurbished in 2008. It had new gates put on and winding gear. Work was also done on the stone work.

Approaching Whalesborough Lock Whalesborough Lock A new gate on Whalesborough Lock A bridge
Hele Bridge
Hele Bridge Walk Waymarker    

Mile Post
2 Miles to Bude

Helebridge Incline Plane




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