New Book Launch – A Pictorial Journey down the Wisbech Canal


A new local history book containing over 33,000 words and approximately 230 illustrations, entitled “A Pictorial Journey down the Wisbech Canal”, will be published in September this year.

For further information please us our contact page.

The book launch is planned for SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2014 at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum between 11.00 AM and 3.00 PM.

The Wisbech Canal existed from 1797 to 1970.

Its story begins in the late 12th / early 13th century with the demise of the Well Stream that once flowed from Littleport to the port of Wisbech. The Well Stream was the principal river of Wisbech before the Nene. It carried the waters of many rivers from Littleport through Welney, Tips End, Christchurch, Three Holes, Upwell, Outwell, Emneth and Elm before discharging into the sea at Wisbech.

Constant inundations at Littleport caused the Well Stream water to be diverted to King’s Lynn due to the build-up of silt at the Wisbech outfall. The lack of water at Wisbech Port had a detrimental effect on trade but the alteration to the water flow elevated the importance of King’s Lynn.

Contained in the book are many maps and illustrations displaying the history of Fenland water courses.

The digging of the Wisbech Canal in the late 18th century was a futile attempt to improve trade at the Wisbech Port. There remains a remnant of the “sluice valve” adjacent to Freedom Bridge marking the location of the canal outfall which is where this pictorial story begins.

The book contains photographs of the old canal through the town of Wisbech, including working canal boats at the sluice. There are, together with interesting historical information, pictures of the old canal at Elm and Emneth and through to the intersection with the old Nene at Outwell. The canal remedial works show the story of the canal being filled. There are many illustrations of the canal and surrounding areas on the way back to Wisbech. The story ends where it began, at the old outfall.

Some pictures will be included in a slide show at the Wisbech Institute on FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2014. Doors will open at 7.00 PM for 7.30 PM. This is a two-part picture show, with nibbles and tea served at half time.

ADMISSION £5.00, with all proceeds going to the Institute.

Another great chance to see some rare pictures of Wisbech and the surrounding area.

Tickets available from Etcetera 01945 463440 or William (Bill) Smith 01945 772712.