Andover Canal: Trade
Very little is known about the day to day running of the canal as the original canal company records seem to have been destroyed. Should anyone know of the whereabouts of any of these records, the Website Manager would be very pleased to learn about them.
Redbridge was an established port and shipbuilding centre at the head of Southampton Water. It is also the lowest bridging point on the River Test. Many merchant and Royal Navy vessels were constructed there in the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a similar depth of water at Redbridge to Southampton so that ships could easily make Redbridge to bring goods for Andover, the Test Valley and Salisbury.
The canal company had its own wharves at Andover, Stockbridge and Romsey; there were also a number of private wharves including Clatford, Fullerton, Horsebridge, Mottisfont, Timsbury and Redbridge. The canal carried a local trade, mainly bringing coal, building materials, such as slate, and manure up from Southampton Water and carrying agricultural produce down. There was an imbalance in trade and often the boats had to travel down empty.
The maximum tolls that could be charged were 2d (0.8p) per ton per mile on all goods. However, trade was below expectations and was never sufficient to enable the shareholders to be paid any dividends. In 1827 the company were eight years in arrears with its loan interest but by 1851 this had reduced to one year.
Joseph Priestley published a book in 1831 called “Navigable Rivers and Canals” which gave details of every navigable canal and river. He included information about the Andover Canal some of which is quoted below:
“At the termination of the canal at Redbridge, and where the same enters the river called Southampton Water, there is a wharf and quay, with warehouses, storehouses, cranes, &c.; which, at the time the act was obtained, belonged to the Rev. Sir Charles Mills, Bart.; and, as it appears he was entitled to riverage, wharfage, and storehouse room for the use of the same, certain rates, as under, were secured to him, or his tenants, by a clause in the act, for all articles conveyed or to be conveyed on the Andover Navigation.”
|For Coals not landed, but taken out of, or put into, Vessels to be conveyed on the Canal||0||3||per Chaldron|
|For all other Goods or Merchandize||0||1||per Ton.|
|For Coals landed on the Wharf||0||6||per Chaldron.|
|Wheat, Flour and Beans so loaded||0||3||per Ten Sacks.|
|Oats and Malt||0||3||per Ten Quarters.|
|Timber (including the expense of drawing the same on Shore)||1||0||per Load of 50 Feet.|
|Stones, Bricks, and all other Goods landed on the Wharf, and not put into the Storehouse||0||3||per Ton.|
|For all Goods which are landed and warehoused for the space of One Month, the following Rates are allowed, (which includes the Wharfage above, together with the expense of Porterage of such Goods.)|
|Wheat, Flour and Beans||0||6||per Quarter.|
|Oats, Malt and Grass Seeds||0||3||ditto.|
|Hogsheads of Sugar, Tallow, Soap, Starch and Tobacco||0||8||per Hogshead.|
|Vinegar, Spirits, Beer and other Liquors||0||6||ditto.|
|Larger casks of Butter||0||1½||each.|
|Woollen Rags for Manure||0||3||ditto.|
|For all other Rags||1||0||ditto.|
|And for all other Goods in the same proportion.|
|N. B. Where Cranes are required for loading and unloading, an additional charge, not exceeding Three-pence per Ton.|
In the Hampshire Chronicle dated 31 March 1794, there was a notice extolling the virtues of the town of Stockbridge and the nearby canal. A further notice in the Hampshire Chronicle in 1804 announced an auction to be held at the Star and Garter Inn in Andover selling a lease of the whole canal concern. The advertisement was placed by R A Etwall, Clerk to the said Company and enquiries could be made of Mr New who was described as ‘the Inspector’.
In March 1824, the Hampshire Chronicle reported the theft of three sacks of wheat and two of barley from the Romsey wharf. A reward of ten guineas (£10.50) was offered. If the offenders were caught they were liable to be sentenced to death.
A few other records survive including a couple of invoices for services issued by the company. One of these dated 1855 was sent to a Mr Harris about charges for the delivery of 160 tons of chalk loaded at Sir J B Mills’ pit. This is the large chalk quarry that is still on the east side the A3057 about 1 mile (1.75km) north of the Bear & Ragged Staff Inn, near Timsbury. It was delivered to Redbridge at a cost of two shillings (10p) a ton. Another invoice of the same year was made out to Mr Guliver for two loads of ‘Small Chalk’ at £2 per load, but no further detail is provided.
The canal did not lead to a great upsurge of manufacturing along its length, if any at all. Traffic mostly consisted of heavy materials that would have been expensive to transport by land, such as the Caen stone used in the rebuilding of St Mary’s church in Andover in 1844. In 1859, 37,000 bricks for the building of an extension to Broadlands House were delivered by way of the canal.
In 1849, the canal company started carrying all goods on the canal themselves, buying the sixteen 18-ton barges working on the waterway. The existing carriers had told the company that without large toll reductions they could not continue.
The railway from Basingstoke reached Andover in 1854 providing a roundabout route from Southampton. Price-cutting began forcing the canal company to reduce its rates to retain its traffic. The tonnage carried was maintained but receipts fell and little loan interest could be paid after 1854.
|Year ending June||Receipts
In 1859, the Andover and Redbridge Railway Company estimated that the canal carried 2,033 tons between Andover and Redbridge. Presumably some additional cargoes were carried to intermediate destinations. The overall figure is likely to be less than in earlier years as by 1859 both Andover and Romsey were served by rail. The main sources of traffic identified were:
|Hides and bark||422|
|Building materials, including slates||400|
Robert Tasker set up his Waterloo Ironworks in the Anna Valley south west of Andover in about 1815, less than a mile from the canal at Upper Clatford mainly producing agricultural equipment. Tasker had a private wharf on the canal immediately above Pill Hill Lock. About 400 tons of Tasker's foundry iron came from South Wales via Redbridge and the canal each year. Some 100 tons of iron came from the Forest of Dean and, together with some 200 tons of Somerset coal, this was brought along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Burbage Wharf and then by road waggon. Timber came from Devizes or Honey Street on the Kennet & Avon.
In 1859 it cost Taskers £1 10s (£1.50) for six tons of material. The canal journey from Redbridge took two days, with an overnight stop in Romsey.