The navigation was John Rennie’s first ever completed canal project, in 1793. He went on to build many more canals, bridges and docks to become one of Britains most eminent civil engineers of his time.
As well as the many remaining lock structures, all of which have water flowing through them, there are numerous bridges and water Mills along the river. Many of which are Grade II listed.
The Ipswich to Stowmarket Navigation excels in the heritage of the built environment, allied to the original use of the canal. Canal building led to a set of unique and diverse heritage features, all of which are worthy of protection. The Canal helps tell the story of Britain’s industrial past, but it is not a museum. It is a usable asset, still being enjoyed and employed today. Its scale and accessibility remain important for tourism, physical and mental health, and our national sense of identity.
Heritage can be defined as any landscape, tradition, language, or way of life deemed to be of positive benefit and handed down from generation to generation. One definition of a heritage asset is ‘A building, monument, site, place, area of landscape identified as having a degree of significance …’ (NPPF definition).
Industry thrived alongside the canal, often with some evidence remaining. Fisons built a huge complex for the production of chemical fertilisers (photo above). Stowmarket became one Britains largest Malt producers, with 17 malting at one time. The Dulux paint plant evolved from Prentice's Chemical and Explosives works, where an explosion in 1871 claimed twenty-eight lives and left seventy five injured with widespread destruction (photo above). The famous Suffolk Punch lawnmowers were produced in Stowmarket from 1954. There were once twelve water mills along the Gipping, many of the structures remain, but the Mill at Baylham (photo above) is the only complete water mill on the Gipping.
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