Record: 13 km
The Stroudwater Navigation is a canal in England which linked Stroud to the River Severn. It was authorised in 1776, although part had already been built, as the proprietors believed that an Act of Parliament obtained in 1730 gave them the necessary powers. Opened in 1779, it was a commercial success, its main cargo being coal. It was 8 miles (13 km) in length and had a rise of 102 ft 5 in (31.22 m) through 12 locks. Following the opening of the Thames and Severn Canal in 1789, it formed part of a through route from Bristol to London, although much of its trade vanished when the Kennet and Avon Canal provided a more direct route in 1810. Despite competition from the railways, the canal continued to pay dividends to shareholders until 1922, and was not finally abandoned until 1954.
Even before its closure, there was interest in retaining the canal for its amenity value. The Stroudwater Canal Society, which later became the Cotswold Canals Trust, was formed in 1972. Following initial hostility from the Proprietors, who had not been stripped of their powers when the canal had closed, agreement was reached and work began on restoration of the waterway. The project gained popularity, and in 2003, a bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £82 million to restore both the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal. The project had to be split into smaller parts, and only the first phase has so far been funded in this way, when a grant of £11.9 million was confirmed in 2006. With match funding, this was to enable the section from 'The Ocean' at Stonehouse to Wallbridge to be reopened, together with the Wallbridge to Brimscombe Port section of the Thames and Severn.
A second bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the connection from Stonehouse to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal at Saul was rejected in 2007. This section presents some engineering challenges, as it was severed by the construction of the M5 motorway and the A38 road. The roundabout where the A38 joins the A419 road was built over Bristol Road Lock, and part of the route was destroyed by flood relief work for the River Frome. At Stonehouse, the bridge carrying the Bristol and Gloucester Railway has been replaced by a culvert, but a bid has been made to the newly formed Gloucestershire Local Transport Board for its reinstatement, and to create a long-distance footpath along the route. Outside the main restoration, the Cotswold Canals Trust are gradually restoring many of the other structures, with the ultimate goal of re-opening a link between the River Thames and the River Severn.