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Beam Aqueduct
Beam House, Great Torrington, Devon, UK
associated engineer
James Green
date  11 August 1824 - February 1827
era  Georgian  |  category  Aqueduct  |  reference  SS473209
ICE reference number  HEW 384
A five-span masonry aqueduct built to carry the Rolle Canal that ran from the River Torridge near Weare Giffard to the mills south of Great Torrington. Little of the original canal survives, apart from the Grade II listed Beam Aqueduct, which now carries the driveway to Beam House.
The canal covered about 10km from a lock on the River Torridge at Landcross (SS458232) to a quay (SS500183) near the town mills and lime kilns south of Great Torrington. It was built on land owned by Lord John Rolle (1751-1842), who lived in 17th century Beam House (SS472206), at his expense and without parliamentary approval. James Green (1781-1849) designed the canal in 1823.
The canal was at an elevated level at the downstream (northern) end and so required an aqueduct where it had to cross the river, 3.2km downstream of Torrington. Thereafter the canal ran level until it reached the river just above the town mills. A leat from Darkham Weir (SS502172) fed the canal with water.
Beam Aqueduct is16.8m high. It has five semicircular arch spans of 9.5m, with rises of 4.7m, springing from rectangular piers with rounded ends from which rise tapering engaged semicircular columns. The aqueduct is 7m wide between parapets. Illustrations show towpaths on both sides of the trough, which was constructed in elm as it lasts well in water.
A branch of the London & South Western Railway was built over parts of the canal bed in 1871. The railway from Bideford to Torrington opened in July 1872. Later, other parts of the canal bed were filled in to build a toll road. The roadway is now a footpath and is known as Rolle Road.
The aqueduct has been converted into a road bridge that forms part of the access to Beam House. The house itself is now a college and activity centre for young people.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Illustrations of Devon History" by R.R. Sellman
Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1962
www.therollecanal.co.uk
www.wearegiffard.info
reference sources   CEH SouthBDCE1
Location

Beam Aqueduct