The next stage

In one year the canal had been cut as far as Higham, but then work came to a standstill.  Faced with a chalk hill where the tunnel was to be cut, it was now obvious the funding was nowhere near enough to undertake the rest of the project.  Bills were pushed through Parliament in order to raise the required capital and in April 1819, tunnel work restarted.  On 14 October 1824, the canal was officially opened, costing seven times the original estimate.

The tunnel joining the two parts of the canal was a magnificent feat of engineering for the time.  Dug by navigators (navvies) with pick and shovel, it was perfectly straight with a larges lay-by to enable small ships and barges to wait their turn before entering the tunnel.

A large basin was dug out of the chalk at what is today Higham train station, allowing the craft to lower their masts before being towed through by horses.

Unfortunately for all concerned the canal was never the success it was hoped.  Revenue was low and even with the advent of a small passenger boat carrying passengers between Gravesend and Rochester, no profit was made.

In 1844, they tried towing barges from Gravesend basin to Strood with a small steam tug, but it became too costly.  Something had to be done; the company had yet to pay its investors their dividend.