Lord Rolle’s Canal runs across land now held in numerous ownerships and returning the entire waterway to a state in which navigation could take place is simply a day dream. However efforts are being made to raise public awareness to its course and to restore where possible the salient features of the canal which still exists.
Sea Lock is subject to extensive restoration by the landowners, Hilary and Adrian Wills, who have been assisted by volunteers from the Rolle Canal & Northern Devon Waterways Society and the Waterway Recovery Group as well as a few private individuals.
Over the past few years a great deal of invasive vegetation has been removed, loose masonry replaced and gaps between the stonework re-pointed.
Some of the coping stones have been re-bedded and replaced where missing.
Much of this work was only possible thanks to grant funding from Leader+ and help from friends.
Members of the Rolle Canal & Northern Devon Waterways Society have been excavating the personnel entrance to the inclined plane wheel pit. This appears to have been filled in by the railway company, leaving the upper level as a shelter.
Work on this site has been hampered by a number of different factors. The limited space in which to move has made digging and shovelling very awkward and slow.
Access to the site is limited due to bats hibernating here, and much of the main chamber of the wheel pit lies diagonally across the Tarka Trail so substantial safety fencing would need to be erected before any excavation of it could possibly take place.
Furzebeam Hill, Clinton Estates and Torrington Conservators.
The section of canal running from Beam Aqueduct (now viaduct) behind Beam College is in private ownership belonging to the Clinton Estates and is not accessible to the general public. However a fine carriage bridge has been restored here.
The Rolle Canal & Northern Devon Waterways Society are hoping to negotiate a permissive path from the Tarka Trail to this bridge and further along the edge of Furzebeam Hill on to Torrington Commons, where there are some fine stone embankments and a great deal of canal remaining
The Torrington Conservators are also considering restoration of their section of the canal.
Plans are being drawn which would enable work to be undertaken to clear vegetation, dredge and reline the part of the course of the leat where it runs adjacent to the derelict lime kilns on this site. The intention is to draw water from the River Torridge and store ‘grey water’ from various buildings to provide a source of water for the gardens when needed. This work will be carried out by contractors in a way that is sympathetic to the original leat design. It is also hoped that the lime kilns can be repaired to the point at which they may be used for educational benefit and as an additional tourist attraction to the gardens.