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Norwich and Lowestoft Navigation Company


Records of the Norwich and Lowestoft Navigation Company: shareholders resolutions at a general meeting 1825, plan of proposed navigation 1825.



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These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

Although the Yare has carried traffic since the Roman times, no improvements were made to the river until the 1800s, apart from dredging. In 1827 an Act was passed for a navigation proposed by the Norfolk engineer William Cubitt. Work commenced on an outlet at Lowestoft, via a canal from Reedham on the Yare to Haddiscoe on the Waveney, and from the Waveney a navigation via Oulton Dyke, Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing to Lowestoft. In 1832 the harbour works at Lowestoft were completed, and in 1833 the Reedham-Haddiscoe canal, the New Cut, was opened. Norwich was now open to sea-going traffic but no docks were ever built. The navigation was not a success due to the entrance lock at Lowestoft being continuously blocked by sand and the harbour works undermined. In 1842 the Government forced the sale of Lowestoft Harbour as the Exchequer Bill loan could not be repaid. The railway contractor, Samuel Morton Peto, purchased the harbour in 1844. A year later the Eastern Counties Railway bought the harbour and the navigation and developed Lowestoft as a railway-fed port. Lowestoft thrived, but the navigation did not. In the 1840s the Yarmouth authorities dredged the Breydon channel so that sea-going vessels could use the Yare up to Norwich. The New Cut, 2 3/8 miles from Reedham to Haddiscoe, remains open, so too does the remainder of the navigation to Lowestoft, 9 miles from Haddiscoe via the Waveney to the port, with one lock at Mutford Bridge, owned by Associated British Ports, between Oulton Broad and Lake Lothing. Craft are limited to a length of 85 feet by 20 feet. As it currently stands, as the owners of the navigation, they are the successors to the Eastern Counties Railway, the Great Eastern Railway, the London & North Eastern Railway and the British Railways Board. In its 18 7/8 miles from Yarmouth to Norwich the Yare has no locks. The authority over the Yare and most other Broadland navigations was the port of Great Yarmouth, administered by the Great Yarmouth Port and Haven Commissioners, now it is the Broads Authority. For further information on the Norwich and Lowestoft Navigation see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and John Boyes and Ronald Russell's The Canals of Eastern England'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.