Navigation Inn

The Navigation Inn

W1307a Canal, Basin & Bridge (dates?)
W1307a Canal, Basin & Bridge (post-1921)

The Navigation Inn was built in 1804 following the construction of the canal (completed in 1797) to accommodate the canal traffic and was sited to the west of the road bridge – it closed for business in 1912. In 1920 it was bought by Mrs Cart and converted into a house which was then named Bridge View.

It formed a second Wharf in Hickling and it was here that boats moored up for the night and accommodation for the boatmen (or ‘navvies’) was found either here or at the Plough Inn further up the road. The Navigation Inn would also have had extensive stabling for the horses which drew the barges.

Beauties of the Grantham Canal (1935):

A wonderfully idiosyncratic record of the canal and its villages at the end of the canal’s working life and just before it was remaindered (- although a little fact-checking may be needed?). This article was transcribed from an original article in the Nottinghamshire Guardian by Tony Jackson of the Grantham Canal Society. The name of the original author is not recorded; if you can help us to find a name or a copy of the original article, please contact us.

With our grateful thanks to the Grantham Canal Society for sharing the article and images. Full text of the article can be found on the Grantham Canal page.

“Hickling, famous for its ‘Basin’, the largest on the waterway, is a fine though non-progressive village but must have been of some importance in the old transport days.  It would ‘put up’ for the night some 20 to 30 boats and horses at the Navigation Inn with overflow accommodation at the Plough next door.  The first named and the Wheel, a hundred yards down the road have long since ceased to function, but with euphony in the titles for those who recollect the grand old inns, remembering their usefulness.  For anglers, when the railway acquired the canal, the traffic quietened down, the slabs of slimy bream held a particular fascination and many stories of large pike and monstrous eels are still told to the younger aspirants.  It was here that the record otter for the county met his fate, to grace to this day our local museum at Wollaton Park.”

The Navigation landlords and landladies:

  • 1844 – 1872? – Mr J Shipman – After his death his widow, Hannah Shipman, continued; at some point she was joined by their son, Charles Shipman (perhaps around 1864). They were predominantly farmers. Listings refer to Hannah and Charles Shipman at least until 1872.
  • 1873 – WY Spriggs – (referenced here in March 1873; no precise detail)
  • 1877 – Mr John Glover – (referenced here in September 1877; no precise detail)
  • 1879 – Mr Richardson – (referenced here in January 1879; no precise detail)
  • 1879 – Mr Lamb – (referenced here in October 1879; no precise detail)
  • 1884 – Mr George Lamb dies at The Navigation; 28th July 1884
  • 1885 – 1904 – Mrs Sarah Lamb  
  • 1903 – Mr Harry & Mrs Sarah Parnham – (see The Plough) seem to be living at The Navigation (Wadkin archive) although not as licensees
  • 1904 – Sarah Lamb, Oliver Ginnever – transfer of licence from Sarah Lamb to Oliver Ginnever (August 1904)
  • 1905 – John William Oates – temporary transfer of licence to John William Oates (January 1905); full transfer from Oliver Ginnever to John Oates (March 1905)
  • 1907 – Rigley, Oates, Freeborough – transfer of licence from John Oates to John Thomas Freeborough (March 1907) and then to William Rigley (August 1907)
  • 1908 – Alfred Walker – Following death Of William Rigley, temporary transfer of licence to Alfred Walker (January 1908) NB. Rigley sometimes spelt as Wrigley.
  • 1910 – Mr Walker          
  • 1911 – Mr Spencer, Mr John Thomas Rowbotham – (census)
  • 1912 – ceased as a public house 
  • 1920 – Mrs Cart bought by Mrs Cart for £300 and renamed, ‘Bridge View’.

From the Wadkin Archives:

W0336a Plough & Navigation Inns - Pickering family
W0336a Plough & Navigation Inns – Pickering family
W0336b Plough & Navigation Inns - Pickering family
W0336b Plough & Navigation Inns – Pickering family
W1306b Canal, Basin & Bridge (dates?)
W1306b Canal, Basin & Bridge (dates?)
W0748a Canal bridge along Main St (pre-1921)
W0748a Canal bridge along Main St (pre-1921) – the sign for The Navigation Inn is just visible to the right of the photograph.

Scrapbook of Hickling:

(p.24) Two engineers were appointed, a James Green of Wollaton for the section from the Trent to the Leicestershire border about 1.5 miles east of Hickling and a William King for the rest including the reservoirs at Denton and Knipton. Act under which work began was 1793 and the canal was wholly navigable in 1797, the cost being £118,500. The length of the canal is 33 miles and had 18 locks. Traffic on the canal upwards was mainly coal, coke, lime, building materials and groceries to villages along the line to Grantham and to places beyond which were then distributed by land carriage. Downward the canal carried corn, malt, beans, wool and other agricultural products. There were two wharves at Hickling one the basin side which is still called ‘The Wharf Yard’ and belongs to Mr. E. Faulks (Ted) and the other side of the road which is now the front lawn of “Bridge View” owned by Mr. T. Herrick but was at one time “The Navigation” Public House.

In 1854 the canal was bought by Ambergate Railway then to L.N.E. R., later to British Waterways Board in 1936 . The last commercial boat travelled in 1922 and was owned by a Mr.’Iky’ Slater. During the 1920 ‘s Tom Watchorn (“Crutchy”) would take parties of six or seven in a rowing boat, the favourite place being Devils Elbow between Kinoulton and Owthorpe . In the other direction the trip would be as far as Harby.

When the canal was frozen most people of the village would go skating as soon as the yard work was finished in the morning and stay until afternoon milking, then return in the evening by the light of lanterns. During the freeze-up of 1962/63 the canal was frozen from December until the first week in March. One evening a bonfire was lit on the bank and skaters took tins of soup which were all put in a saucepan and heated on the bonfire. The different flavours of hot soup mixed together on that cold night was delicious.

The hump back bridge was taken down in 1957. Hickling children have always been told the story of the huge whale which comes along the canal from Grantham at mid-night to turn round in the basin.

(p.34) The Navigation: This was built alongside the canal in 1904 and is now known as Bridge View. The photograph of the hump back bridge being taken down in the section on the canal also shows Bridge View in the centre of the photograph. The Inn was closed as a public house in 1912 and was bought by Mrs. Cart for £300. The names of known Licences are as follows:

  • 1844     J. Shipman
  • 1853     J. Shipman
  • 1864     Hannah Shipman
  • 1885     Sarah Lamb
  • 1894     Sarah Lamb
  • 1906     Wrigley Oates Freeborough
  • 1910     Walker
  • 1911     Spencer Rowbottom

(p.37): Village Feast November 1906 The Village Feast was quietly observed. There was a small gathering of the travelling fraternity, with cocoa-nut shies, etc. in the Navigation Yard. The old custom of making ‘Furmity’ was still observed by a few families.

(p.46): Mr.Tom Watchorn – known as ‘ Crutchy ‘ – was at one time a cobbler in the village. He worked and lived in what is now a shed but was a black hut inside the gate of ‘Bridge View ‘ when it was the ‘Navigation’ Public House.