In 1818 it was said that south-west Essex was one of the main sources of potatoes for the London market and this was thanks to manure allowing 2 crops to be grown in a year.
A canal was proposed from the Thames to Romford and Collier Row to capitalise on this claim and allowing potatoes to be grown around Romford. Other cargos were envisaged, including agricultural produce, lime and coal.
Proposals for a canal were made in 1809, 1812, 1820 and 1824; the proposed canals started at either Rainham Creek or at a point just to the west of Dagenham breach. The 1818 plan envisaged a canal of 36 feet wide and 5 feet deep capable of being navigated by barges of 40 to 60 tons.
The main stumbling block with the proposals was the great Dagenham breach of 1703 where the Thames embankment gave way. The marsh lands of Dagenham and Havering were flooded until, after much time and money that the area was reclaimed.
Over the years many of the proposals involved breaking through the Thames embankment at its weakest points; and with the great breach at Dagenham still fresh in local peoples memories there was a lack of support for the canal.
The plan lay dormant for nearly 50 years and then in 1875, at a time when many canals had closed or were closing under the threat of railway competition, an act was obtained for the construction of canal to Romford, but not Collier Row. The canal was to be completed in 5 years.
Although work was carried out, the canal died and very little physical evidence of the story of the Romford canal remains today.
However, the outline of the canal can still be seen in the Beam Valley Country Park.