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Aylsham Navigation History

A Pleasure Wherry moored at Lamas Church
More history of The Navigation
The Diaries of Mary Hardy give a valuable picture of the life and times of a farmer's wife around the time of the Aylsham Navigation
The historian Margaret Bird  has researched this era. Here is a link to her website

Aylsham Navigation history


In 1773 Parliament passed The Aylsham Navigation Act. This gave the go ahead for the construction of five locks, along a 9½ mile stretch of the River Bure one at each end at Coltishall and Aylsham and three at the mills at Oxnead, Buxton and Burgh. Work on canalizing the river began in 1774 and it was finally opened in 1779 greatly increasing the wealth of Aylsham and the villages above Coltishall over the next century.


With added channels and five locks the River Bure was accessible to wherries from Horstead Mill to the staithe at Aylsham, carrying many goods in both directions. It declined after the railway arrived and was damaged beyond repair by the great flood of August 1912 when all five locks and the bridges were damaged beyond economic repair. The remains of the locks at Coltishall, Oxnead, Burgh and Aylsham can still be seen.

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