The idea of a canal to extend river transport and to facilitate the carriage of heavy good had been considered long before the Rolle Canal became a reality. It was initially considered in the 1790’s by Denys Rolle but various circumstances at that time delayed the project, the Napoleonic Wars being one of the more substantial stumbling blocks.
In 1810 a route was surveyed by James Green on the east side of the Torridge but the western route surveyed in 1823 (after JG had completed work on the Bude Canal) proved to be line taken when work started in 1824.
The Turnpike road (now the A386) from Bideford to Torrington was built at about the same time as the canal. Halfpenny Bridge was built across the Torridge in 1835. John, Lord Rolle was financially involved in those ventures too.
It is thought that at this time the shipyard at Annery moved downstream to relocate at Sea Lock. This yard built numerous hulls here for the Rolle Company which had to be floated down to other yards below Bideford Long Bridge to have their superstructures fitted.
John, Lord Rolle died in 1842 aged 92 and left his estate to his second wife’s nephew, the Hon Mark Trefusis on condition that he changed his name to Rolle. Mark (1835-1907) was son of 19th Baron Clinton and the Rolle lands are now part of the Clinton estates.
The life of the canal was relatively short. It was started far later than initially considered and became victim to the coming of the age of steam.
Following this Beam Aqueduct was made into the main road access for Beam House, a toll road was created between the railway station and Town Mills known as Rolle Road.