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Work on the Ipswich & Stowmarket at Baylham Lock, a regular WRG site, during a 2009 canal camp

River Stour Navigation

Martin Ludgate

Restoration of this river goes back a long way – including a ‘protest dig’ in 1966 (which was reported in the very first issue of Navvies magazine: see our feature in issue 275 looking back over 50 years) aimed at heading-off a threat to the navigation. Two years later the River Stour Trust was formed to campaign for reopening. Despite frustratingly slow progress at times (often for external reasons including struggles to negotiate with authorities not supportive of navigation, especially in powered craft) navigable lengths have been created at both ends of the river. At the upper end, the brand new Great Cornard Lock was built, while in the lower reaches, Flatford Lock, Dedham Lock (both famed for John Constable’s paintings of them) and Stratford St Mary Distinctive restored Stour lock with gate lintels Lock have been restored. Today, (subject to Environment Agency issues – see Editorial) the Trust’s trip-boats are still operated, as are events for unpowered craft, and the Trust still campaigns for restoration of the remainder of the river.

River Stour Great Cornard Lock

Sudbury The Essex and Suffolk Stour was made navigable for 25 miles from Sudbury down to Manningtree, where it enters the estuary leading to Harwich. Made famous by John Constable’s paintings of the river and its locks, the Stour carried goods including bricks, grain and coal until railway competition led to a decline, and the company went into liquidation in 1914. Despite this a little trade continued mainly on the lower reaches until 1930.

Length: 25 miles Locks: originally 13 plus 13 flash-locks, later 15 locks Opened: 1709ish Closed: 1937

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Nayland Stratford St Mary Lock

Dedham Lock Flatford Lock Manningtree

Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 281  

Navvies 281 - WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals.

Navvies 281  

Navvies 281 - WRG's magazine for volunteers restoring the canals.