The Aylsham Navigation

Since January we have been working closely with the Aylsham Local History Society on a new project about the history and landscape of the Aylsham Navigation. The improved navigation along the River Bure was constructed in the 1770s, with new locks and cuts on some sections of the river between Aylsham and Coltishall. The Navigation opened in 1779 and continued in use until 1912 when heavy floods washed out all the locks. 2012 will be the centenary of the floods and a project is underway to celebrate the history, landscape and wildlife of the Navigation.

We are busy helping volunteers and students carry out detailed archival research into the history of the Navigation. Detailed records survive from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including a splendid map of the course of the Navigation by a local surveyor, Biederman, which shows the proposed new locks and cuts along the River Bure.

As well as documentary research we will also be carrying out some fieldwork along the course of the Navigation to identify and record features relating to the Navigation, such as the surviving locks, cuts and historic buildings.

The historical research is being funded by a grant from CUE East, and the final outcomes will include a book about the Navigation, an exhibition in 2012 and an interpretation panel in Aylsham.

The wider project has its own website, where you can find out about the plans for the celebrations taking place in 2012, and find out how to get involved –

An article on the project appeared in the Eastern Daily Press, which you can read here.

We’ll be posting regular updates on the project throughout 2011.