Home  / BW35


Company of Proprietors of the Grantham Canal Navigation


Records of the Company of Proprietors of the Grantham Canal Navigation: delivery notes and receipts 1835-1839.



Reference code


Access Status

These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

The Grantham Canal was promoted in 1791 and was intended to join with the Trent just below Nottingham. The first Bill failed in part due to the heavy opposition from Newark, Grantham's usual coal supply, and from those who feared the River Witham's water would be taken. For the second, the junction with the Trent was moved to West Bridgford, opposite the Nottingham Canal and the city. The Nottingham Canal served several collieries and it was hoped that a canal to Grantham might result in cheaper and easier access to coal. This second Bill passed in April 1793. William Ostler was appointed clerk; he stayed in the position until his death in 1853. William Jessop had done the original surveys and was now placed in charge of building the canal. The resident engineers were James Green, who, like William Jessop, was involved with the Nottingham Canal, and the Duke of Rutland's agent William King. Part of King's responsibility was both reservoirs, at Denton and Knipton. The canal was opened in summer 1797 and was 33 miles long. A branch of just over 3 1/2 miles to Bingham had been authorized but was never built. As the canal had been designed with Nottingham coal in mind, the 18 broad locks on the Grantham were capable of taking the same 75 feet by 14 feet vessels that worked on the Nottingham Canal. A year after it opened a weekly passenger service was in operation from Cotgrave to Nottingham. The original cutting at Harlaxton was altered in 1801 to have two passing places instead of one. In 1833 there was a proposal from J Rofe to build a canal from Grantham on to Sleaford, from where cargo would be sent overland to South Forty Foot Drain for Boston, although nothing came of it. Relations were good with the Nottingham Canal and Grantham Canal was reasonably successful. The proprietors had ceased trading in coal in 1812 but the stocks carried by merchants were so low that they resumed in 1827, and found themselves in court because of it. They received a nominal penalty for conspiring to enhance prices. Shortly afterwards an agreement with merchants was reached about maintaining minimum stocks of coal, and the proprietors once again stopped trading in coal. Many of the tolls were high. In 1843 the company was presented with evidence that it was cheaper to transport almost any cargo using almost any other route other than the Grantham, and were requested to cut tolls by a third. The company obliged but did not include coal or coke transports in their reductions. The Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston & Eastern Junction Railway opened their Ambergate to Grantham railway in 1850. It's chairman W F N Norton was also on the Grantham committee. Five years previously the railway had agreed to buy out the Grantham and Nottingham canals once the railway was completed, but tried to renege on the agreement. Apart from having limited finances available, the railway no longer had any interest in buying the canals. Years of legal disputes followed, during which time the Grantham and Nottingham canal companies jointly, and successfully, opposed every Bill the railway company submitted regarding the new railway. It took until 1854 before the railway company conceded defeat and on 20th December that year, the Grantham Canal was formally transferred to the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston & Eastern Junction Railway & Canal Company, which then transferred to the Great Northern Railway seven years later. Little was done to promote the Grantham and by 1926 all traffic had ceased. It closed in 1936, although its importance as a supply of water to agricultural land meant that it was not filled in. A specified minimum water level for the canal had to be maintained. Restoration works are now underway. For further information on Grantham Canal see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's'The Canals of the East Midlands'.

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.

Associated material

[See also BW63 for records of Grantham Canal during other periods of ownership]