Local Waterways

Further resources

This page lists local and national resources to help those who are interested in researching in more detail, than is provided by this website, about one or more of the local waterways.

The main sources of information reviewed on this page relate to a number of databases about monuments (such as buildings or other physical features), events (such as excavations or surveys) and archives. A wealth of information on archaeology and the historic built environment is held within a national network of local Historic Environment Records (HERs) (formerly known as Sites and Monuments Records). An introduction to these records can be found on this page by Historic England.

The Heritage Gateway

The Heritage Gateway is a website managed by Historic England in partnership with ALGAO and IHBC. The website provides access to local and national records on the historic environment including the following resources:

On the Heritage Gateway website enter your search word(s), for example “Itchen Navigation”, select the ‘Search’ button and after a while a list of sources should appear. A page of “Help and Frequently Asked Questions” can be found here.

It should be noted that only a simplified version of local authorities’ Historic Environment Records is available through the Heritage Gateway website, to which selected data is uploaded at intervals. This is suitable for general interest and basic research. If fuller and up-to-date information is required, direct contact with the appropriate authority should made (see the next section).

Local Historic Environment Records

Whilst the Historic Environment Records (HERs) for certain authorities can be searched via the Heritage Gateway (as indicated by the ‘Gateway’ entry in the table below), others have to be examined through the separate websites listed below under ‘Enquiry’. Most of these authorities do not provide online access to their records, instead providing searches by their staff. In some circumstances such searches may incur a charge. NB These searches will not normally give details of the other resources available through the Heritage Gateway. For these resources see Other databases below.

Local Historic Environment Records websites
Authority Gate-
Enquiry Contact Email Telephone
Southampton Yes https://www.southampton.gov.uk/planning/heritage/ Historic Environment Record Officer, Historic Environment Team, Planning and Economic Development, Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Civic Centre Road, Southampton, SO14 7LY her@southampton.gov.uk 023 8083 2850
Winchester Yes https://www.winchester.gov.uk/historic-environment/archaeology/archaeology-and-the-historic-environment-record Historic Environment Record Officer, Winchester City Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LJ her@winchester.gov.uk 01962 840 222
Portsmouth No https://portsmouthmuseum.co.uk/collections-stories/historic-environment-record/ HER Assistant, Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery, Museum Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2LJ vis@portsmouthcc.gov.uk 023 9282 7261
Rest of Hampshire No https://www.hants.gov.uk/landplanningandenvironment/environment/historicenvironment/historicenvironmentrecord Historic Environment Record, Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester, SO23 8UJ historic.environment@hants.gov.uk 0300 555 1389
Chichester No https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/25592/Historic-Environment-Record-HER Historic Environment Record, Design and Implementation, Chichester District Council, East Pallant House, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TY her@chichester.gov.uk 01243 534800
Dorset Yes https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/libraries-history-culture/local-history-heritage/her/historic-environment-record.aspx Senior Archaeologist, Promotion and Liaison, Dorset Council, County Hall, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XJ her@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk 01305 224921
Surrey No https://customer.surreycc.gov.uk/historic-environment-record-enquiry HER Officer, Historic Environment Planning, Surrey County Council, Quadrant Court, 35 Guildford Road, Woking, Surrey, GU22 7QQ her@surreycc.gov.uk Mobile: 07815 472504
West Sussex Yes https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/land-waste-and-housing/landscape-and-environment/historic-environment-record/ Historic Environment Record, Landscape and Environment, West Sussex County Council, County Hall, Chichester, PO19 1RQ her@westsussex.gov.uk 01243 777620
Wiltshire No https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/article/889/Archaeology-and-historic-environment-record Archaeology Service, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, SN15 3QN archaeology@wiltshire.gov.uk 01249 705526 or 07917 790187

Other databases

The following websites give access to databases covering English historic resources normally found through the Heritage Gateway. However, the Gateway may not cover your area of interest or if you want more detail, these might help to provide further information:

National databases concerned with the Historic Environment
Database Details
National Heritage List for England The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England.
National Record of the Historic Environment (PastScape) Pastscape is no longer available and the website was decommissioned on 17/12/2020. You are now asked to go to the Heritage Gateway if you want to find up-to-date data from Historic England and local HERs.
National Trust Historic Buildings Sites and Monuments Record Provides access to the National Trust’s archaeological and historic building database, which holds information on over 88,000 archaeological sites and historic buildings situated upon, or adjacent to, National Trust owned land.
Historic photographs of England (formerly Viewfinder) The Viewfinder website has now been closed down. Much of its content is now available via this alternative link.
National Monuments Record Excavation Index The Excavation Index (EI) is a guide to the archaeological excavations and interventions carried out in England since the earliest days of scientific archaeology, and an index to the location of the excavation archives and finds.
Parks & Gardens UK The Historic England’s 'Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England', established in 1983, currently identifies over 1,600 sites assessed to be of particular significance.

The National Archives

The National Archives’ Discovery website holds more than 32 million descriptions of records held by The National Archives and more than 2,500 archives across the country. For example, searching for “Southampton and Salisbury Canal” will give brief details and the location of records referring to the canal.

Local Archives

Often the majority of a canal company’s records are held in a local archive or record office which are often run by local authorities (county or district). A lot of the remaining records will be found in nearby archives. Details of these should be discoverable through the National Archives (see above).

Websites and addresses of local archives
Office Address Email Phone
Southampton Archives South Block, Civic Centre, Civic Centre Road, Southampton, SO14 7LY city.archives@southampton.gov.uk 023 8083 2251
Hampshire Record Office
(Includes archives for Winchester District Council)
Sussex Street, Winchester, SO23 8TH enquiries.archives@hants.gov.uk 01962 846154
Portsmouth History Centre Central Library, Portsmouth City Council, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2DX. portsmouthhistorycentre@portsmouthcc.gov.uk 023 9268 8046
Dorset History Centre
(Includes archives for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole District Council)
Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1RP. archives@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk 01305 250550
Surrey History Centre 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6ND. shs@surreycc.gov.uk01483 518737
West Sussex Record Office
(Includes archives for Chichester District Council)
3 Orchard Street, Chichester, PO19 1DD. record.office@westsussex.gov.uk 01243 753602
The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
(Includes archives for Salisbury City and District Councils)
Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, SN15 3QN. archives@wiltshire.gov.uk 01249 705500

MAGIC website

The MAGIC website provides geographic information about the natural environment from across government. The information covers rural, urban, coastal and marine environments across Great Britain. It is presented in an interactive map which can be explored using various mapping tools that are included. Users do not require specialist software and can access maps using a standard web browser. This information can be examined free at the Magic Map managed by Natural England.

Ordnance Survey field drawings

The surveys for each of the ‘Old Series’ One Inch maps were collated by the surveyors onto preliminary drawings on paper usually at a scale of two inches to the mile using pen and ink. It was from these that the copper printing plates were engraved by hand at One Inch scale.

These drawings were working documents, now over 200 years old, and in places are a bit the worse for wear. The British Library holds these documents. Copies of these maps are available on Wikimedia Commons as normal image files albeit quite large. Search for them at Ordnance Survey Drawings. These files are licensed under the National Archives: Open Government Licence version 1.0 (OGL v1.0).

Ordnance Survey large scale mapping

Historical Ordnance Survey large scale mapping at the scales of 6 inches and 25 inches to one mile has covered the Hampshire area since about 1860-90. Although this mapping dates from after the abandonment of many waterways and the coming of the railways, much of waterway interest can be traced on these maps. Most local archives hold copies of these maps where they may be examined and usually photocopies may be purchased. There are a number of websites where it is possible to view copies of these maps online:

  1. The British Library says it has the most comprehensive, publicly accessible collection of Ordnance Survey maps in the world. However, apart from the Ordnance Survey field drawings (see above), none seem to be available on-line.
  2. The National Library of Scotland (NLS) gives access on-line to most OS mapping covering Great Britain from about 1840 until the early 1970s. This mapping can be accessed via https://maps.nls.uk/os/.
  3. Old-maps.co.uk used to allow you to see on-line large scale mapping from about 1840 until around 1990. The quality of the scanned mapping on this site may not be quite as good as the NLS but sometimes it made available early mapping missing from the NLS site. Unfortunately, from November 2021, mapping via this site is no longer available. A replacement may be made available in the future - further information from Landmark Information Group. It is possible to purchase copies of mapping via this site.
  4. Many local authorities have copies of large scale Ordnance Survey mapping covering their area. These may not be complete for either their area or for all historical editions. Usually such maps will be held at the local archives covering that area usually as paper maps. Local authorities may well not hold copies of up-to-date mapping on paper as, usually these days, they hold mapping data in computer based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which may or may not be available to the public online.

Other Historic Mapping

There is a website concerned with historic mapping covering the county of Hampshire called “Old Hampshire Mapped”. This large website, originally dating from about 2004 to 2020, contains digital copies of hundreds of maps of the county. Many of the maps pre-date the ‘Canal Era’ but some later maps are available.

There is a website hosted by Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre that was created as part of a successful Know Your Place project run by Bristol City Council funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This website allows modern Ordnance Survey mapping to be overlaid with older editions of OS mapping and Tithes mapping dating from around the 1840s. Unfortunately it does not cover most of Hampshire but there is Hampshire mapping along the border of the two counties. For example, it covers the Southampton & Salisbury Canal west of Lockerley. It also covers Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, and Somerset. It can be accessed here.

LIDAR data

One source of information that has not been available to previous explorers of old waterways is LIDAR data which is publicly available (for free) on the internet from the Environment Agency (EA). LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) is an airborne mapping technique, which uses a laser to measure the height of the terrain and surface objects on the ground such as trees and buildings. Hundreds of thousands of measurements per second are made of the ground allowing highly detailed elevation models to be generated. The EA’s LIDAR data in the Hampshire and surrounding areas is available at a spatial resolution of 1 metre and has a vertical accuracy of +/-15cm (RMSE). Coverage is being extended or reflown every year.

Whilst it is possible to view the EA’s mapping data via their website (see below), in order to take full advantage of the data, the use of GIS (Geographic Information System) software is recommended. QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop application that supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data. However be warned, GIS software can be quite daunting for a beginner.

An introduction to the data available from the EA can be found on Environment Agency Geomatics Hub. Another source of information is this page from Historic England about using LIDAR data in archaeology (and old canals can fall into that category). This latter page also gives access to many links with more information.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the information on this page is correct, this website cannot be held responsible for errors in or for changes to the information given. The website manager would be grateful to receive any Feedback.