This film is part of Free

North Walsham and Dilham Canal

The history of a Norfolk canal, its buildings and boats, explored through industrial archaeology.

Documentary 1966 12 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for East Anglian Film Archive


Intrigued by what remains of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal in Norfolk, David Cleveland made this film about the history of the nineteeth century venture. It was intended to improve the waterways for the boats carrying goods between Great Yarmouth on the coast and inland Norfolk. He explores the eight mile route and buildings, warehouses and mills along the way. A former wherryman, Arthur Waters, describes negotiating the locks in smaller wherries used on the canal.

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal ran parallel to a branch of the River Ant. Work began in 1825 and was completed the following year. The canal began at Wayford Bridge where there was a branch to Dilham after half a mile, ending at a warehouse. The canal continued to Honing, Swafield and Antingham. Arthur Waters explains that there were 26 smaller wherries working the canal and cargoes carried included grain, logs, coal and tiles. The canal was not a success. It cost £32,000 to build and never made more than £350 per year. In 1886 it was sold for £600, having lost out to competition from the railways and improved road transport. The last commercial wherry on the Canal sailed in December 1934.