This was originally intended to be part of a scheme to link the Bristol and English channels but most of the route never came to fruition. The canal was used to transport coal and iron from South Wales and to transport agricultural produce out of the area. After the canal was sold to the Bristol and Exeter Railway, traffic was discouraged. After 1907, the canal was mainly used for water supply. The canal was reopened in 1994, following restoration work undertaken by British Waterways and Somersetshire County Council following a long campaign by IWA.