BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GRAND WESTERN
The canal was conceived in the heyday of canal mania as a route across the south west peninsula to reduce sailors' deaths on the treacherous rocks of Cornwall. It would have continued to Topsham, where recent research has shown the company bought a field adjacent to the estuary.
Legal delays meant that construction did not start until 1810, when the Devon summit section was built, the first commercial boats moving in 1814.
Shortage of water (and money) delayed completion to Taunton until1838. The solution to the water problem was to use lifts, which reduced water loss by 90%. 7 vertical lifts and a massive inclined plane lift raised the canal 270 feet from Taunton to Devon.
These were the first vertical lifts to operate anywhere in the world. They are described in the Transactions of the the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1838, in a comprehensive paper by their designer, James Green.
The inset picture shows an artist's impression of how the 24ft lift at Nynehead would have looked when it was in operation. these lifts worked for 30 years, as the canal conveyed building materials, agricultural supplies and materials for the textile mill in Wellington.
The Park 'n Glide will create a fitting tribute to one of the early 19th century's great engineers, a largely forgotten pioneer who created an enormous range of infrastructure in the south west and south Wales, James Green.