The “Boaty” is the name that West Deeping residents have used since the 1970s for a 70 metre-long gravelled drive to the west of King Street, between the houses, leading to the fields behind. The remains of a lock, in the garden of St Andrews Lodge. is just to the west, behind a wall, and the point at which the canal crossed King Street is at its eastern end.
The only references to this particular stretch, for the period when the canal was in use, are to be found in a set of title deeds (privately owned) for the properties immediately north of The Boaty. The earliest documents dating from 1763 refer to the southern boundary as “the Navigation”. By 1874, it is referred to as “the disused canal”. There are no indications that the owners of these properties had any connection with the canal. John Sayles, for example, who was admitted as a manorial tenant in 1807 was a cordwainer, a shoemaker. There is no mention of a wharf or an unloading area.
In 1865 when by direction of the Corporation of Stamford, the Welland Navigation was advertised for sale by auction, this section was part of Lot 15. A list of property owners, found in the Stamford Town Hall archives, identifies William Sismore as owning 75 yards for the property to the north and Mr Seth Smith, whose property extended further to the west, owned 137 yards on the south. The auction was cancelled, as the Corporation’s right to sell was disputed. It is thought that this section of the canal was never actually sold, although there are documents in the Stamford Town Hall archives that appear to be conveyances for different sections of the canal to many of the people listed as landowners of the adjacent properties.
However, it appears that responsibility for this section of the disused canal fell to the parish authorities as in 1884, West Deeping Vestry Minutes record the Sanitary authority’s concern:
“the question how best to deal with the old boat river was taken into consideration. It was proposed by the Rector seconded by Mr Tryon that the Surveyor of the Roads be instructed to widen and deepen the dyke lately made west of the Street road, for the purpose of abating the nuisance complained of by the Sanitary authority, and was so decided by the Vestry”
From then on, the minutes of the annual Parish meeting and the regular Parish Council meetings record a long-running saga of complaints, discussions and attempted solutions. To read every detail, read the Transcripts of West Deeping Parish Council Minutes 1903 – 1999
Some of the highlights:
- In 1903 a letter was to written to Uffington Rural District Council, in whose jurisdiction roads and footpaths were at the time, “acquainting them of the dreadful state of the Boat River and of the stench arising therefrom”,
- 13 years later(!) 1916: Mr S Stevenson “brought the condition of the old ‘Boat River’ before the meeting” and suggested “pipes should be laid and covered over and a roadway provided into the fields in the back lane”. A public meeting was held at which the chairman Mr William Percy Whincup had to manage some “rather strong discussion” as the clerk put it! Another request was made to the Rural District Council. “As this matter was first brought to their attention in 1903 it is thought by the village it is time something should be done” – not only to end the stench, but also to sort out a way through to the Back Lane.
- Another 4 years later 1920: Still there had been no response from Uffington – so, very decisively, the Parish Council undertook the job themselves!
- Even when the old watercourse was piped and filled in there were still problems! Only 2 years later (1926) “it was reported that the drain in the old boat river had been damaged by Mr Peter Nottingham”(no anonymity in West Deeping!) he was to make good the damage and “in the future he was not to interfere with this drain without the consent of the council”!
- Also “the clerk was directed to inform Mr C Wright that the council could not allow the piece already filled in to be used for storage purposes”!
- In 1932 the accumulation of rubbish in the Back Lane and the Boat river was endangering stock when passing through. The solution was to clear it all up and deposit it in the old boat river further along!
- In 1974 the Minutes record for the first time a reference to “The Old Boaty”! Mr Black was asked to make a notice board stating that the old Boaty is a Private Road.
- During the 1980s the biggest issues were the annual levy chargeable to the users of the Boaty for access to the rear of their properties and re-surfacing
- Still, in the 21st century a significant amount of time and money is spent on “The Boaty” – Land Registry proceedings in 2007 settled the matter of title, but the issue of re-surfacing comes up regularly and the “Boaty levy” still appears on the Parish Council annual accounts.
A group of residents have set up a Wildflower Conservation area in the south western end of The Boaty. The snowdrops in early spring transform the view, and this featured on the February page in a calendar published for 2011, to raise funds for the village.
In October 2013 an interpretation board was sited at the King Street end of The Boaty to inform villagers and visitors alike about the the history of the Stamford Canal and the significance of this area in the village’s heritage.
Go back to West Deeping
Go forward to King Street Crossing