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The River Ant was already navigable to Dilham, but round about 1810 there were ideas of extending to North Walsham. Surveys were made by John Millington of Hammersmith and an Act for a canal passed in 1812. Nothing was done for many years with work finally starting in 1825 under Millington as engineer. The navigation was independent of the course of the Ant and therefore a true canal. Cutting was in charge of a contractor, Thomas Hughes. He found Norfolk peat difficult but achieved completion in August 1826. Leaving the Ant above Wayford Bridge near Dilham, the canal ran to North Walsham and on to Swafield and Antingham Ponds, a total distance of just under 9 miles. Coal traffic did not develop as expected however, corn, flour, timber, cattle cake and animal feeding stuffs were important cargoes. The canal never made money, and in 1866 powers were acquired to sell it. It was finally sold in 1886 to a local miller, Edward Press, of Bacton Wood Mill near North Walsham, who ran his own wherries. However, after 1893 the canal above Swafield Locks to Antingham Ponds was adandoned. In 1906 Edward Press died and the canal was auctioned off to the General Estates Co. They kept the canal until 1921 when it was bought by the local Ebridge millers EG Cubitt and G Walker, who formed the North Walsham Canal Co. Meanwhile its condition was deteriorating. Attempts at improvement were made, for the canal was still an important water supply to the mills. In 1927 it was dredged from Wayford Bridge to Bacton Wood, although at the same time they de-watered the Swafield Locks-Antingham Ponds length, which has been converted back to farmland. The last wherry passed in 1934 and today the locks are derelict. Pleasure craft may navigate the tidal section up to Wayford Bridge to the first lock at Honing, while the independently owned dike to Dilham village has been restored.

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