History of Leven Canal

Leven Canal was opened in 1804 having been cut by the order of Mrs Charlotte Bethel, Lady of the Manor. The 3 1/4 mile long canal started at the River Hull and was constructed to allow barges to reach the granaries and warehouses at Canal Head in the village.

One of the original two warehouses built at the canal basin in 1825 still remains, though it has been converted into a private residence.

Canal Head House, built in 1801 at the head of the canal, also remains as a private residence, and one third of a mile west of Canal House is the Sandholme Aqueduct, built in 1801 to carry the canal over a drain.

The original lock gates between the canal and the River Hull have now been replaced by a sluice, cutting the canal off from the river's tidal effects, and the canal itself has been split into two sections about half way along its length, and water is now fed from one section to the other by means of a 'pipe'.

Up until recently, the Environment Agency had not allowed regular dredging/maintenance of the canal on the grounds that it wanted the wildlife to naturalise in the area, having designated the canal as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), and the fear that the dredger may pierce the clay creating a leak.

Unfortunately their decision had the opposite effect on the canal in that it became badly overgrown with reeds and weeds in one section, and the volume and range of wildlife inhabiting its banks appeared to have decreased rather than increased.

Recently the Environment Agency has allowed the owners to take limited but positive steps to 'clean up' the canal, and dredging of certain areas has been undertaken. - These areas are already looking healthier.

A little useless but interesting information ....

Between 1951 and 1970 the canal was known to host a rare species of slim-stem reed-grass known as 'Calamagrostis stricta', but there have been no reports of its existence since then, though the banks have been searched several times in recent years. (There are only 29 known sites in the UK where this reed has been positively identified)

Read about Matilda Simpson - Leven Lock-keeper

Related Books:
The Canals of Yorkshire and North East England - Charles Hadfield (Volumes 1 & 2)