Cat no. 449

North Walsham and Dilham Canal

Running time12:26 Black & White Sound 1966 Norfolk Broads, Norfolk

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The history of the North Walsham & Dilham Canal.


DocumentaryTravel / Travelogue

The film opens with stills of trading wherries and film of Broadland scenes and windmills. A lengthy sequence shows the restored wherry `Albion'. Built at Oulton Broad in 1898, she was restored shortly before this film was made. She is moored, the sail is hoisted, and then she is filmed sailing. The North Walsham and Dilham Canal was built during the early 1800s. In the same year 50,000 sailing boats passed through Great Yarmouth. The canal was adapted from the River Ant and was begun on the 5th April, 1825. At the opening of the canal a band, 100 labourers hired from Bedfordshire to build the canal, and many locals marched along the lane. This is illustrated by the Salvation Army band marching along a lane at Coltishall and a shot of the Market Cross at North Walsham. Stills of the celebration, drawn for the film, add to the effect. The eight mile canal was opened on 29th August, 1826. A shot of a Church and of Wayford Bridge precedes more shots of the Albion before the cameraman explores the route of the canal. Beginning at Wayford Bridge, the canal had a branch to Dilham after 1/2 mile. This ends at a Warehouse, now disused. A map shows the route of the canal. After Dilham, the canal continued to Honing, Swafield and then on to Antingham. The Wherries on the canal were slightly smaller than usual. Arthur Waters of Ebridge, a retired wherry skipper, describes taking cargo along the canal and then on to Yarmouth. He was only eighteen years old and everyone kept asking him who the skipper was. He describes the process of negotiating a lock and the film shows a disused lock at Honing. Over shots of the overgrown canal, Mr. Waters explains that there were 26 wherries working the canal. Cargoes carried included grain, logs, coal and tiles. There is a photograph of Ebridge Mill. Flour milled here was taken to Yarmouth. The interior scenes of a working mill were shot at Horstead Mill c. 1950. We see another lock at Ebridge and Arthur Waters describes a journey along the canal to Swafield Staithe. He remembers his father going onto Antingham, although this part has been disused since 1890.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. Railways and later road transport finished the canal. These points are illustrated by a train passing over a bridge at Somerleyton, Honing Railway Station (derelict) and then some close up shots of the wheels of lorries as they pass along the road, and over a bridge over the canal at Honing. The last wherry on the Canal sailed in December, 1934, but Arthur Waters recalls that the 1912 floods caused siginficant damage along the route. The final scene is at Briggate lock. The commentary explains that there were plans to re-open the canal and build a holiday village at North Walsham; these never happened.

Featured People:

Arthur Waters, retired Wherryman

Featured Buildings:

Ebridge Mill; North Walsham Market Cross; Honing Railway Station; Wayford Bridge; Horstead Mill

David Cleveland; Colin Hancock

David Cleveland

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