It is fairly well known that it is called the ‘New Canal’ because it featured one of the cities larger water courses.
It would be interesting to determine whether the meaning, or the implication, of the word ‘canal’ has changed over time. Today a canal would bring to mind a waterway that you could navigate with a narrow boat. However the ‘New Canal’ was, as far as I understand it, never like this. Salisbury’s system of water courses were fairly shallow streams that brought water in, and it seems took sewage out.
The water courses were often referred to as ditches – houses on what is now the New Canal were sometimes described as ‘on the ditch’. I’ve also found reference to the ‘Salt Lane Channel’. Perhaps the words ‘canal’ and ‘channel’ were interchangeable until the Industrial Revolution brought the grander sense of the word ‘Canal’ that we would use today?
The canal itself was filled in following the 1849 cholera epidemic.
- Salisbury: St Thomas’s parish’, A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6 (1962), pp. 81-83. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41785&strquery=”new canal” Date accessed: 01 June 2009. [↩]