A RADICAL plan to carry West Somerset Railway passengers to a new station at Norton Fitzwarren by canal barge has been mooted.
The Friends of the Grand Western Canal group wants to carry out a feasibility study into restoring a long-lost section of the waterway to link up with Britain’s longest standard-gauge heritage line.
The Grand Western Canal, which linked Taunton and Tiverton, was part of a wider scheme to link the Bristol Channel and English Channel in order to cut off the hazardous passage for shipping around Land’s End. First mooted in the heyday of the canal age in 1796, the first section did not open until August 1814.
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The eastern section which lay in Somerset did not open until 1839, but included an inclined plane and seven revolutionary boat lifts, which were the earliest such lifts to see commercial service in the UK and predated Cheshire’s Anderton Boat Lift by nearly 40 years.
The railway age quashed the bigger plans, and the eastern section of the canal closed in 1867, and has largely disappeared from the landscape. The GWR took over ownership of the canal in 1888, and the remaining section was formally closed by the British Transport commission in 1962.
Read more in Issue 232 of HR – on sale now!