Note: The form of the name “Shootend” was used on Ordnance Survey maps before the Second World War. Others used the form “Shoot End”. In more modern times the form “Shute End” seems to have become universal. This portrait uses the form of the name current at the time the canal was being constructed.
In September 1800, the project was modified to extend the canal from Whaddon to a wharf next to what is now called Old Road on the north side of Shootend Copse. In 1800 this was the turnpike road between Southampton and Salisbury - it was not until 1808 that a new alignment for the turnpike was constructed by French prisoners of war bypassing Shootend and lessening the steepness of the gradient on the ascent from the Avon Valley towards Alderbury. This new alignment was part of the main Salisbury to Southampton road for 170 years until the dual carriageway Alderbury Bypass was opened in 1978.
The course of the canal runs northwards from the site of the first lock in the descent towards Salisbury for about 60 yards before entering Shootend Copse. The canal turns to run north-west and descend diagonally down the side of a steepish hill. Within the wood there appears to be the remains of three lock pits descending about 22 feet (6.7 metres). Without archaeological investigations it is not possible to tell whether these pits ever contained any brickwork for the lock chambers or whether work stopped before construction of the masonry started. It may be significant that the wood on the west side of Shootend Road is called Brickkiln Plantation. As happened at other places along the canal after construction was abandoned, it is quite probable that many or all of the expensive bricks, if they were present, were taken for use elsewhere.
The 1800 plan envisaged a wharf adjacent to Old Road but no evidence of such a feature is apparent.
Shootend (Shute End) to Belmont
Below the locks, the course of the canal turned left to pass under Shootend Road a few yards south of its junction with Old Road. Travelling north, the canal bed is evident in a number of places along the west side of Shootend Road, passing through woodland once called Little Shootend Plantation but changed on the Ordnance Survey revision of 1900 to Cupid’s Grove. It extends as far as two modern houses, Egret’s Rise and Heron’s Reach, which appear to have been built on the canal’s alignment. This is the last place that the line of the canal can be traced.
North of these two houses is St Marie’s Grange, dating from 1835 and listed as a Grade 1 building. It is the first of two houses architect and designer Augustus Pugin built for himself. Later, Pugin was a major contributor in the design and construction of the present Houses of Parliament. It is possible that the site of the Grange, or the two houses south of it, was to be the terminal basin and wharf, at least until the money became available to build the last 1¾ miles (2¾km) to Salisbury. The site is next to the junction of the old turnpike road with the newer, re-aligned turnpike road. Although the new turnpike was not built until 1808, it is quite possible that the canal company knew that this change was in the offing and this site would be adjacent to both routes.
Pugin bought half an acre (0.2hectare) of land to build his house. The work involved in constructing and landscaping St Marie’s Grange in the 1830’s seems to have resulted in changes to surface levels and so it is impossible to be certain what canal construction might have been undertaken. Whether a basin was excavated here as a terminus is unknown. A further lock in the area of the Grange would have been necessary for the canal to continue towards Salisbury but would not have been necessary if stopping here.
North-west of St Maire’s Grange, the canal was to continue parallel to the turnpike road to and then behind Belmont House, just to the south of which would have been the last lock before Salisbury. The current Belmont House was constructed in about 1835 and is a Grade II listed building. It seems from the 1807 Ordnance Survey map that it may have replaced earlier buildings.
Close examination of an enlargement of the 1807 Ordnance Survey field drawing (see below) may shed a little light on the extent of construction of the canal’s channel. Unfortunately this area of the map has suffered some damage but enough remains to surmise what parts of the canal might have been built from Shootend to Salisbury. South of Shootend Copse to Silver Street, the canal is depicted, somewhat sketchily, by a double, almost straight line with traces of blue shading to show it is a water channel. The field drawing shows the canal north of its crossing of Shootend Road as two black lines very close together but again with traces of blue shading. It seems to show this line passing the future site of St Maire’s Grange and terminating near Belmont.
The One Inch to One Mile map derived and engraved from this drawing (published in 1811 - see map here) shows this feature as a single line from the crossing of Shootend Road at the bottom of the locks to Belmont. However, today there is no trace of any such feature north of the Grange. The land south-west of the Southampton Road between St Marie’s Grange and Belmont seems to have been landscaped during the 19th century removing any evidence of any such construction work. The feature shown on the 1807 drawing does not appear on the OS mapping surveyed in 1875 nor can any trace be discerned on LIDAR mapping.
Belmont to Salisbury
Nowhere between Belmont and Salisbury is there any physical indication that a canal was planned let alone built. In 1795, it was planned that the canal would run south of the turnpike road to near the bridge under the main road a little to the west of the hamlet of Petersfinger. It would then run through the meadows roughly parallel to the Southampton Road as far as the field south-east of St Martin’s Church, Milford having passed under the Southampton Road again where it turned northwards to enter Salisbury.
As with the section of the route between Shootend Copse and Belmont, the 1807 surveyor’s drawing (see below) shows a section of stream running along the south side the turnpike road from a point about 300 yards (270m) north-west of Belmont as far as Petersfinger. It is the most probable line for the canal as it would have been a foot or two higher than the meadows to the south and less effected if the meadows were flooded. It does not appear on later Ordnance Survey mapping of 1875). There is no trace today of any ditch or channel in such a location. It is probable that widening of the road has obliterated it and in any case it might have been an irrigation channel and nothing to do with the canal.
A stream is shown on the map north of the road west of Petersfinger running from Salisbury. Part of this channel still exists in the Petersfinger Park and Ride and to the south of Tesco. It is believed to be an irrigation channel supplied from the River Bourne and to predate the canal.
In Salisbury, the original plans were for a wharf on west side of the old Southampton Road (now called Tollgate Road) in the area now occupied by housing and just north of the new Southampton Road which was not built until the 1960s. This arrangement would have involved an aqueduct and embankment crossing the River Bourne (also known as Laverstoke Brook) and a bridge under the old Southampton Road. It was later decided to dispense with these expensive works and terminate the canal on the east side of this river about 500 yards (460m) short its original destination. There was even a suggestion to avoid the cost of constructing a bridge under the road at Petersfinger and to run south of the road as far as the River Bourne. However, no Salisbury terminal for the canal was ever constructed.