The canal route to the C2C/District railway crossing at Elm Park
By these houses on Roosevelt Way, there is evidently a rise in the ground. It is totally plausible that a lock would have been built at this location. Traces of the canal are hard to find. It seems that between Rainham Road and Elm Park sections of the canal were dug intermittently, making it harder to discover any possible remains of the canal route. Just past these houses in this picture, there was a surprise.
As many canal historians will know, the army just loves water! This pill box to the north of Roosevelt way gave a clue to the canal’s alignment. A scramble through the trees behind the pill box revealed a slightly built section of the canal’s bed. Over on the west side of the footpath are examples of several complete tank traps…
Left and right: These delightful examples of tank traps near Roosevelt Way remind us of other examples that can be found along the New River (in North London) and also on the Basingstoke canal where many various examples exist.
Beyond Roosevelt Way the Beam Valley widens out and in places a slight depression can be seen between the path and the Beam River, which is consistent with the section of canal by the pill box at Roosevelt Way.
Approaching the railway lines south of Elm Park, there seem to be some traces of the canal by the bushes on the right. A footpath splits off from the tarmacdamed path at this point and follows the apparent canal alignment towards the location where the canal made a tunnel under the railway embankment. Referencing with Google aerial maps help to identify the canal alignment along this section.
Looking to the south from the railway embankment and there’s a slight depression which is consistent with the section of canal on the north side of the railway route.
This is about where the Romford Canal would have made its ‘tunnel’ through the railway embankment. There are some considerations to be made however regarding this tunnel. The railway when built had two tracks, so the embankment was considerably narrow when the canal was constructed. This means that it is impossible to identify the exact place at which the canal entered the embankment.
Another consideration is that a diagonal tunnel would have been more expensive to build and it is presumed that the canal was meant to tunnel at more of a right angle to the railway. Comparing the canal alignments on both sides of the embankment using Google seems to show that the canal did use a very slightly diagonal tunnel, in other words almost right angled but not quite, route through the embankment. The canal appears to have deviated slightly off route to meet the tunnel on both sides of the embankment.
A view of the embankment from the nearby footbridge. The red line indicates the canal’s alignment on both sides of the embankment. Indeed the line marked on the right (south side) of the embankment follows a reedy depression which is evident of the canal itself. The red line on the north side of the embankment is approximate.
On the other (north) side of the embankment the canal’s route is a definite depression. The District Line train can be seen crossing the recently strengthened railway embankment. The canal channel is marked red for clarity.
NEXT: To Romford