- Hits: 1081
Little is known about the Romford Canal, as it was never finished.
The first plans for a canal to Romford were seen in 1809 and 1812 when Ralph Walker introduced proposals using a route from Rainham Creek with a length of 4 three quarters mile and six locks. An examination of the proposals in 1818 commented that the scheme would never work.
Further plans were drawn up in 1824 for a £60,000 canal up the Beam valley, with six locks. One of the issues facing the proposals was local opposition. Objectors cited the "unsatsifactory results of such canals as the Croydon Canal, the Basingstoke Canal, the Kennet & Avon Canal, and the Salisbury Canal" which were all similar in context to the Romford canal. The objectors' main concern was that the Romford canal would be a complete failure. It is therefore surprising that the canal was allowed to be built so many years later.
Nothing else seems to have happend for the next 51 years, which is a very long time in terms of planning a canal - surpassing that of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal!
One would have thought that any hopes for the canal had been completely forgotten when the railways gained a strong foothold in the area. Yet the impossible happened - in 1875 an act was passed and it enabled construction work on the canal to begin.
Much work was done on the middle/lower Beam Valley section, including a bridge and one lock complete with gates.
At the upper end of the valley nearer Romford, a tunnel and short section of canal was built under the London Tilbury and Southend railway line.
Here was a canal company building a brand new waterway under a railway that had been opened 20 years earlier! Such an event is unheard of in the UK.
The Eastern Counties Railway - had reached Romford back in 1839, hence it must have taken some confidence to build a canal in an area already being served by two major railway routes.
By 1877 all work on the canal had stopped and the project abandoned.
Part of the canal was used for WW2 defences, and after the war most of it was filled in.