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The Cornish Guide - Cornwall / Kernow

The Cornish Guide - Cornwall / Kernow

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Bude Canal

Age group: 7+

Location: NORTH Cornwall


Contact: Bude

TEL: n/a


John Edyvean, a Cornishman, originally conceived the idea of the Bude Canal in 1774. Edyvean had previously pioneered the St Columb Canal near Newquay. His concept was to build a canal from Bude inland to join the River Tamar at Calstock and thereby provide a link between the Bristol and English Channels.


It was originally used to bring lime-bearing sand inland for agricultural fertiliser (Bude has sand unusually rich in minerals). The unusual feature of the canal was the six inclined planes.


At the seaward entrance, a sea lock would be constructed to allow sailing vessels of 70-100 tons to be admitted to the basin for trading. In 1835 the Sea Lock was enlarged to its current dimensions to take larger seagoing vessels of up to 300 tons. It had a total extent of 35 miles (56 km), and it rose from sea level to an altitude of 433 feet (132 m). The sea lock though, is the only working lock on this section, so unfortunately navigation is not possible along the whole network.


The barge section from the Sea Lock to Helebridge Basin, is now owned by Cornwall Council and used for recreational pursuits. The Barge Workshop at Helebridge is owned by Bude Stratton Town Council (BSTC) and houses various larger artefacts given to the Town’s museum. It also currently houses the only known example of a Bude Canal tub boat, which is substantially complete, including its wheels.This has been purchased for £1 from the International Sailing Craft Association (ISCA).


The BSTC also one of the original  tub boats used on the canal. This tub boat was recovered by ISCA from the canal in 1976 and is of national importance being an original wooden working canal boat.

Crooklets 1.5 miles, Widemouth Bay 3 miles, Crackington Haven 11 miles