Full Navigational Restoration between Ipswich and Stowmarket
Once navigation is restored between Baylham and Needham Market, further expansion could be made relatively easily by installing lock gates further up and downstream, with each one extending navigation by around 1km, until full functioning locks are present all the way from Great Blakenham to Hawkes Mill, a total of six locks out of the original 15.
Full navigation between Ipswich and Stowmarket then gets more challenging, and expensive. The lock at Claydon was destroyed whilst building the A14 and would have to be rebuilt, but the Trust are liaising with the Highways Agency to determine what can be done to rebuild or restore it. Many of the locks downstream of Claydon and upstream of Needham have EA Flood control systems installed within the lock chambers and these would have to be relocated to the bywash, another expensive job. Full Navigation is feasible, and less expensive per mile than many other completed UK canal restoration projects, that have been successful in obtaining multi million pound grants. With the unique heritage attraction of the river being John Rennie’s first ever canal project and hence having his oldest remaining bridges and locks, full restoration is maybe not too far away. Most canal restoration heritage grant projects cost in the order of £10m to £20 million pound. Full Restoration of the 15 lock, 16 mile Gipping would be in this region.