The Beginning Travel River or Canal River or Canal 1755-74 Financing The Stroudwater Navigation Stroudwater Canal Act Stroudwater Triumphant Stroudwater Triumphant II A New Canal Thames & Severn Thames & Severn Canal Problems 20th Century

The successful opening of the Stroudwater Canal in 1779, inspired a scheme to extend the waterway across the Cotswolds linking the Severn with the Thames.

In 1781, John Priddey, an engineer who had worked on the Stroudwater Canal was commissioned to make a survey.

Priddey recommended a route which would join the Thames near Lechlade. A company was formed to build the new canal, and the necessary Act of Parliament was obtained in 1783.

GRO CA 10 Thames & Severn Canal Proposal, 1781
GRO TS/1761 Thames & Severn Canal Act, 1783 p643
GRO TS/1761 Thames & Severn Canal Act, 1783 p644


The Thames and Severn Canal was a much larger undertaking than the Stroudwater. Not only was it nearly four times as long, the large number of locks required to carry it across the Cotswolds and the 2 1/4 mile tunnel at the summit, made it very expensive to build. The estimated capital (£130,000) was raised by selling 1,300 shares at £100 each.

The Proprietors (major Shareholders) of the Thames & Severn Canal, signed an agreement with the Stroudwater Navigation on 24th March 1783. Most of them had the maximum permitted holding of 100 shares.

GRO D1180/4/43 Signatures of the Thames and Severn Proprietors, 1783


Signatures of the Proprietors of the Thames & Severn appear on the right-hand side of the document ....

...... who were they & why did they invest in the Canal?

Unlike the Stroudwater Canal, the Thames & Severn was not funded by 'local' money...

Edward Loveden-Loveden was the MP for Abingdon on the Thames and hoped to promote trade through his constituency. Sir Edward Littleton owned coal-mines in Staffordshire and was looking for a new route to London for his coal.

James Perry and Thomas Hayes were Wolverhampton merchants. Robert Rolleston, Christopher Chambers (whose wife Frances also had shares) and John Chali were all London merchants. They all expected a good return on their investment.

From January 2016, this website is managed by Stroud Local History Society

GRO D1180/4/43 Signatures of the Thames and Severn Proprietors, 1783