Stort Navigation

Stort Navigation

The Stort Navigation is the canalised section of the River Stort running 22 km from the town of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire downstream to its confluence with the River Lee Navigation at Feildes Weir near Rye House, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.


The first act of parliament relating to this river is entitled "An Act for making the River Stort navigable, in the counties of Hertford and Essex, from the New Bridge, in the town of Bishop Stortford, into the River Lea, near a Place called the Rye, in the county of Hertford", and appointed certain persons commissioners for carrying into effect the provisions of the act.

However, there was difficulty in raising sufficient money for construction, and a second act was passed in 1766 entitled "An Act for making and continuing navigable the River Stort, in the counties of Hertford and Essex". The second act empowered Charles Dingley, George Jackson and William Masterson to build the Navigation and to collect tolls.

Table of tolls

Tonnage rates

For wheat, rye, beans or peas 0s 6d per quarter.
For malt or oats 0s 4d ditto.
For barley, or any other sort of grain not before enumerated 0s 5d ditto.
For meal or flour (five bushels to a sack) 0s 4d per sack.
For coal, culm or cinders 2s 6d per chaldron (£0.13/m³)
For lime 2s 6d ditto (£0.13/m³)
For oil-cakes, malt-dust, pigeon dung or other manure of any Kind 1s 6d per ton
For goods, wares or merchandize not before enumerated 2s 6d ditto.

"And so in proportion for any less Quantity."

"Boats returning with a back lading of Oil-cake, Malt-dust, Pigeon Dung or any other Kind of Manure, which have passed up or down the River immediately before, and paid the Tolls or Rates on their Cargoes, shall be exempted from Tonnage Rate on such Manure."

Thomas Yeoman was appointed engineer for the Navigation in 1766, and it was opened to boats in the autumn of 1769. The 15 locks are built to take boats 85 feet (25.9 m) by 13 feet 3 inches (4.0 m). A survey was made in 1788 by Samuel Weston for a branch to Saffron Walden, but this was not built.

Present day

The Navigation is now managed by British Waterways.

It is walkable in its entire length, and the trail is part of the bigger Papposs 1 trail linking London with Bishop's Stortford, Cambridge and The Wash.

Further reading

*Paget-Tomlinson E, "Illustrated History of Canal & River Navigations" p180-181, 2006 Landmark Publishing Ltd ISBN 1843062070

External links

* [ Stortford history site]

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