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Navigation of the Welland had much declined by the 16th century because of the number of mills. An Act of 1571 granted Stamford Corporation powers to improve from their town to Spalding and the sea. From 1663 Stamford leased the river to Daniel Wigmore who carried out more improvements, including an 8.5 mile lateral canal from below Stamford to below Market Deeping. The outfall into the Wash had been improved in the 1630s. From Stamford to the Wash at Fossdyke Bridge, the navigation measured about 34 miles with all the 12 locks being above Spalding. Other lesses followed Wigmore, but by the early 19th century the Welland to Stamford was little used, although Acts of 1774 and 1794 gave powers to improve the outfall. There had been ideas for canals westwards from Stamford to the Leicester line, the melton Mobray Navigation and the Oakham Canal. They were revived as the Stamford Junction in 1809, 1815 and 1828, one idea being to make the Welland itself navigable up to a junction with the Leicestershire & Northamptonshire Union Canal. In 1824 trustees were appointed for the Welland and under the 1794 Act the New Cut was made, from the junction with the River Glen, called the Reservoir, for 2.75 miles down to Fossdyke Bridge. Under the 1837 Welland Outfall Act, training walls were built to maintain the tidal scour. The Welland was improved for navigation by the construction in 1955-56 of Fulney lock at Spalding.

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