Sleaford Navigation Society
Sleaford Navigation Society was formed in 1977 to counter a threat to demolish Navigation House, the former Company Offices, in Sleaford. The fledgling society was successful in not only preventing the demolition but also in getting Navigation House heritage listed as a Grade II* building. The Society also prevented the house being taken down and moved to another part of Sleaford. Although this would have saved the structure, it was felt that it would have robbed Navigation House of its context in the heritage of Sleaford.
Once the threat to Navigation House had been countered, the attention of the Society turned to the aspiration of full restoration of the Sleaford Navigation to navigable standards.
SNS entered into negotiation with the Anglian Water Authority, the owners of Bottom Lock, with a view to restoration of the bottom end of the Navigation to boats. With an agreement in principle in place, the Society started fundraising for the restoration of the lock. This culminated in the reopening of the lock on 8th November 1986.
While the work was being done on Bottom Lock, a survey to ascertain the condition of the next lock, Cobblers Lock, was carried out. Preliminary work at the lock was commenced in May 1989 with the restoration of the lock chamber being finally completed by the end of 1994.
The Society’s committee began to realise that any further restoration works on the Navigation were going to be very costly and, due to the legal structure of the Society, this could have financial implications for all members. Accordingly, in September 1997, the Society was wound up and was replaced by a Trust which had the status of a Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.
Sleaford Navigation Trust
Sleaford Navigation Trust was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 19 December 1996 in preparation for Sleaford Navigation Society to be wound up in 1997.
SNT put in an ambitious but unsuccessful application to the Millennium Lottery for funding to cover the full restoration of the waterway to navigation. The Trust then worked with North Kesteven District Council on the Sleaford Single Regeneration bid for the town, Sleaford Pride. As part of the bid, Heritage Lottery funding was secured through which Navigation House was restored and opened as a heritage visitor centre.
Experience in funding applications had shown the advantage of ownership of areas to be restored in order to ensure continued involvement and maintenance. With this in mind, the Trust negotiated to purchase an area of land from the Bristol Estates. This constituted the bed and banks of the waterway from The Hub in Sleaford to the bypass. This was intended to solve any problems over ownership which might prejudice future funding for restoration.
Working with the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership saw a raft of improvements to the Navigation. These included the construction of a slipway and lift bridge in Sleaford to create a new head of navigation and improvement to a length of towpath in the town.
Another major project with LWP saw the refurbishment of Bottom Lock with the installation of new lock gates, lock ladders and floating landing stages above and below the lock.
The most recent project, Destination South Kyme, has seen new landing stages for boats visiting the village. The intention was to encourage boaters to see South Kyme as a pleasant diversion from the River Witham and help make the case for full restoration of the waterway to Sleaford. Another aim was to make the general public aware of the heritage and importance of the navigation to the area and encourage them to visit related attractions in Sleaford, including Navigation House, through noticeboards and web site links. Funding for the project was secured from Kestevens LEADER.
SNT is a member of Lincolnshire Rivers Trust, representatives attend meetings of Sleaford Regeneration, Sleaford Heritage Forum, Canal & River Trust Local Waterways Forum North and Northern Canals Association. The Trust is a corporate member of the Inland Waterways Association.