Heavy rainfall and snow makes it easier to visualise the canal!
The earliest archive evidence we have is the 1623 document that describes the course the “New Cut” was to follow from Copthill: “from thence into and through, and along an old ditch called the dividing ditch, between the field of Uffington and Tallington, to the highway leading from Uffington towards Tallington, and so on to the south side of the said way to Tallington town’s end, and from thence through and cross two or three little closes or grounds to a highway leading to Tallington church, and from thence on the north side of the way leading through a little field called Downe, beneath to another highway leading to Tallington mills, and so forwards almost directly to the west end of an old ditch or drain, dividing the fields and meadows of Tallington aforesaid, called Hanne’s ditch, and so on through and along the same ditch or drain to the fields and meadows of West Deeping…”
(Quoted in Antiquities of Stamford and St Martins (1785) by William Harrod seen at Stamford Town Hall, Tebbut Library T65 and in The History of Stamford (1822) by John Drakard)
The Enclosure Award of 1813 shows “The Navigation” following this route. Although the “little field called Downe” and “Hanne’s ditch” are not marked as such, the other features – the highway from Uffington, the highway leading to Tallington Church and the highway leading to Tallington Mills – help to confirm that the earlier proposals were followed.
Two other maps that show proposed changes to the canal route pre-date the enclosure map by 3 years. Although the proposals were never implemented, these maps help to confirm the evidence of the actual route.
The first, surveyed and drawn in 1810 under the direction of Thomas Telford, proposed an extension of the canal to connect Stamford with Oakham to the west. In Tallington, the re-routing (shown in red) would have removed the strange right-angled bend (shown in blue) on the parish boundary with Uffington. To the east of Tallington village, a more northerly course is shown, which would have bypassed West Deeping village.
The alternative development, also dated 1810, was proposed by Benjamin Bevan. His map accompanied plans for linking the Welland Navigation with the Union Canal near Market Harborough in the west, and with Peterborough in the east. There was some confusion when members of the Grantham Archaeology Group looked at the route of the canal and used Bevan’s map as their starting point. Originally they did not realise that this map was only a proposal or that there were some omissions and errors. Other archives indicated there were 12 locks, but only 11 could be found on the map. Tallington Locks goes into more detail.
In 1865 when Stamford Corporation attempted to auction off the canal, the Tallington stretch was advertised in 10 lots, of which 5 were only 100 yards each in length. Most of the village was owned in any case by the Earl of Lindsey, and it was his land through which the canal passed. Lord Lindsey was the principal landowner to challenge Stamford Corporation’s right to sell the canal. It was another four years before in 1869 a settlement was actually reached with Lord Lindsey and the sale was engrossed, according to the minutes of the Welland Navigation Committee in the archives at Stamford Town Hall. The only other landowners with a possible interest were Lord Chesham, of Greatford, and Joseph Phillips and Miss Molesworth, who held the lease for the Welland Navigation.
Stamford Town Hall archives include a small hand-drawn map of Lord Chesham’s “Property adjoining the Welland Navigation”. Signed by the Surveyor for Stamford Corporation, James Richardson, and marked with the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’, it is likely that this originally accompanied a sale indenture from the late 1860s.
Archaeological evidence As well as what is shown on old maps and what can be seen on the ground, there is further evidence from archaeologists. Two sites in Tallington have revealed detailed information about the remains of the canal hidden under the ground.
Bainton Road: One discovery was next to the road leading from Stamford Road south towards Bainton, to the east of the lock in Heron’s Close. While laying a water main in 1996/7, Anglian Water contractors brought in archaeologists to examine two sections of stonework, roughly 4 metres apart, crossing the trench they had cut in the verge on the east side of Bainton Road, The masonry was first thought to have been that of a lock, but then identified as the stantions of a bridge over the canal, although there was no indication what type of bridge this was. (Select the link to read Pre-Construct Archaeology’s report)
When we looked at the list of lots along the canal to be auctioned in 1865, together with the Enclosure award map of 1813 to identify the landowners 50 years earlier, it would appear that this bridge in Bainton Road is being described as “Tallington Stone Bridge”, and the bridge at the corner of what is now Mill Lane would be the “Foot Bridge”.
“Lot 12 A further part of the canal commencing from the east end of the last lot to the Tallington Stone Bridge, in length 147 yards or thereabouts, bounded on the north by the estates of the said Earl of Lindsey and Lord Chesham, on the south by the estates of Joseph Phillips, Esq, the said Earl of Lindsey and Lord Chesham
Lot13 A further part of the canal extending from Tallington Stone Bridge aforesaid to the Foot Bridge in Tallington, in length 344 yards or thereabouts, bounded on the north and south by estates of the said Earl of Lindsey and Lord Chesham”
Millennium Green: Archaeological Project Services investigated an area further to the east, in 2006, for building contractors at Red House Paddock. The dip in the land running east to west along the southern boundary of the plot is already a good indication of the route of the canal, but more details of soil types, dating and were revealed by the various surveys and trial trenches cut across the canal bed cross sections. (Select the link to read APS report)