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The navigation is a short length of the River Darent in Kent
The river was used for trade and in 1835 approximately 50,000 to 60,000 tons per annum were being carried on the river. The size of the river limited single cargoes to 50 long tons (51 t) even on spring tides and as a result a ship canal was proposed. The proposal was unable to overcome its critics and as a result in 1839 an alternative based on dredging the river and a few short cuts was taken up.
An Act of Parliament was passed in 1840 allowing construction to start and tolls to be levied once the work was complete. The project was completed in 1844 and included shortening the upper part of the navigation through the use of a cut and dredging.
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