Some River Gipping Trust volunteers are back at work along the river, working to safe COVID-19 restrictions. Upon our return, we found three large trees fallen down across the towpath and river between Needham Market and Baylham, which we have now cleared. 

Our hope of restoring navigation to the river was given a boost when the restoration of canals was discussed in the House of Commons on 4th June. Rebecca Pow, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stated that she is a “convert to canal restoration”. She added that: “The Government recognise the very considerable benefits our canal network brings in myriad ways, such as providing greater access to the outdoors, enhancing wellbeing, bringing us closer to water, engaging with nature—those water plantains—increasing leisure and recreation, increasing regeneration and bringing value to the economy.”

For those interested in the history of the Stowmarket Navigation (the official name of the canal), we have searched through hundreds of newspaper archives and compiled an index of more than 50 of the most interesting ones with direct links to each newspaper cutting, all of which are available on our website. Look for ‘newspaper articles’ on the side bar on the home page at:

For example, in 1789 the Bury and Norfolk Post reported that there is a request for subscribers to the navigation. 

In 1817 the Suffolk chronicle reported that an application to parliament was being made to extend the canal from Diss to Creeting All Saints. 

In 1907 the Evening Star and Daily Herald reported on the suggestion that the Stowmarket navigation should be restored. This includes some very interesting information on the history of the navigation, especially from a Stowmarket resident who was an assistant on a barge in the 1840s.

Ian Petchey 

Restoration Manager, River Gipping Trust