Andover Canal: Introduction
The Andover Canal was constructed in order to give improved transport between the environs of the northern Hampshire town of Andover and the outside world. When first mooted in 1770, this was quite a progressive proposal as the first artificial canals, such as the Bridgewater Canal and the Grand Trunk Canal (today called the Trent & Mersey), were only just coming into use. Although this was a false start, the canal that was eventually built, between 1789 and 1794, did not come up to the promoters’ expectations largely because the links to other waterways that they envisaged were not built.
The canal did not give any financial returns to its shareholders and the company was never able to completely pay off its debts. After 65 years of quiet use, the canal was rebuilt as a railway which in turn was not very successful. However, the waterway did arguably provide a useful link with Southampton and the rest of the country for a while.
Legally the name of the canal was the “Andevor Canal” (see company seal above) which is an old spelling of the town’s name. The canal was, however, usually referred to as the “Andover Canal”. During it’s lifetime, it was not properly called the “Andover & Redbridge Canal”. Perhaps encouraged by the wording of the company seal, reference to the “Andover to Redbridge Canal” was sometimes made. In 1857, the canal’s proprietors formed the Andover Canal Railway Company which later renamed itself to the Andover & Redbridge Railway. This was the name of the railway company which actually built the railway along the canal (see Latter Days).