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Free exhibition on the hidden history of Bude Canal

Organisers of a free exhibition about the Bude Canal invited people to bring photographs, artefacts and even their memories to add to the catalogue of information about this historic feature.

The exhibition entitled 'Hidden History' was organised jointly by the Bude Canal & Harbour Society, the Bude Canal Trust and North Cornwall District Council's Coast & Countryside Service. It focused on the building of the whole canal system, the artefacts that can still be seen and with the help of local landowners, a series of walks based on the canal's route to allow people to better appreciate its history.

The exhibition was open from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November at the Parkhouse Centre, Bude.

Tim Dingle from the district council explains: "We hope that the local people will play a part as well. We want them to come along and tell us about any artefacts that may still be around like mile posts, bound stones and tub boat wheels, as well as photographs or any papers associated with the canal. We don't want to take this memorabilia away from the owners but we are keen to put together a catalogue of as much as possible so that there is a good understanding of what still exists. The Bude Canal had a huge impact on the town and surrounding countryside in the early nineteenth century. Digging, burrowing and building was everywhere on a scale which is hard to imagine today."

One of the reasons for building a canal was to give employment to men coming home from the Napoleonic Wars. With about 500 men employed on construction in 1820, it certainly did that. However, it was for economic reasons that shareholders parted with their money.

The engineer James Green was well-respected and he told a convincing tale of profits to be made, as well as the benefits for the landowners in bringing lime rich sand to the poor inland soils.

The incline planes, with their noisy wheel pits and chains, the unique sea lock at Bude, and the innovative tub boats on wheels meant that today, the Bude Canal system is considered the fourth most important historic canal in the country.

North Cornwall District Council is one of the partner organisations currently progressing a multi-million pound project to regenerate the canal. Visitors to the exhibition had the opportunity to comment on the regeneration proposals and influence the future shape of the project.

For further information please contact Tim Dingle on 01208 265645 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Bude Canal Regeneration Project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Editor's notes:


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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