This historic and wildlife-rich waterway, owned by Waveney District Council, runs through the millennium Green, joins the River Blyth and runs onwards to Southwold. Our volunteers carry out management work along its banks for amenity and wildlife purposes, in consultation with the Environment Agency, WDC and the Town Council. (See New Reach Review and Update 2016 and New Reach Aims/Objectives/Action Plan from 2016)
Halesworth New Reach is one of the most important, truly distinctive features, of our Town. It was dug in 1760 as part of the Blyth Navigation to provide a direct link between Halesworth and the sea at Southwold Harbour. For over 100 years the wherries provided the vital transport link for the industries of Halesworth to import their raw materials and export their finished goods. It was the reason why Patrick Stead in the first half of the 19th Century made Halesworth the hub of his Maltings empire.
The Blyth Navigation had ceased to be a commercial waterway by the end of the 19th century ruined by the coming of the railway and the continuing problems of the silting of Southwold Harbour. However in 1968 Wilfrid George, in order to safeguard it as a community resource, registered the New Reach from the junction with the Town River to Halesworth Lock as a Village Green. The area of land marked on the plan includes the towpath from the bridge adjacent to Langley’s Quay site to White Bridge, an area adjacent to the Langley’s Quay Bridge that is now included in the recreation area, a spur that was a channel for wherries accessing the George Maltings but is now a tarmac path and otherwise is just the area of the old channel of the Navigation.
In 1993 a community initiative was started to restore the New Reach and create a new local amenity. A combination of the bureaucracy associated with water levels and the floods of that year led to the ending of this scheme.
There is a sluice under White Bridge that retains water in the upper part of the Reach and this section is rich in water plants, fish and invertebrates. Unfortunately it receives overflow from the River after heavy rain and the fertiliser causes a heavy growth of weed which tends to clog the open water and require frequent clearance. Otters fish in the New Reach and water voles are sometimes seen.