A dream project to reopen Stover Canal will come to fruition on Saturday, when part of the historic waterway will be opened by Justin Templer on Saturday, August 17.
Mr Templer is a direct descendant of the Templer's that built the canal in 1972.
The Stover Canal Trust and Stover Canal Society have been working tirelessly to preserve and restore more than a mile stretch of the canal for many years.
They have now completed the first phase, thanks to a grant of £44,000 from Ugbrooke Environmental Ltd and through fundraising and donations.
For the past year they have been working to provide public access to the lower end of the canal town path Jetty Marsh Sea Lock and Teign Bridge to facilitate and reinstate the public footpath that was withdrawn 60 years ago.
The work had to go through planning at Teignbridge Council and was approved by land owners Network Rail, they also had to talk with Sibelco to secure more land along the stretch of the canal.
The works includes creating elevated footbridges under the by wash arch, over the spillway at the lower end of the canal.
A hard surfaced tow path foot path has also been made along with a connecting chicane has been established to connect the existing Templer Way.
"Paul Tapper, chairman of Stover Canal Society, is a brilliant engineer and has been instrumental in the project," said Roger Harding, chairman of Stover Canal Trust.
"It's a long term project since the Trust was founded in 1998,but I felt we had to do something now or it would be lost forever.
"For a long time we were chasing a paper trial but eventually we signed a lease in 2010 and permissions for the works were granted last summer.
"We've been lucky to have regular help from Britannia Naval College, the local scouts, Motorola and a local church group as well as our volunteers.
"We have more than 150 people in the society but about 12 regular volunteers, we could do with some more, if people want to come forward."
Now phase one is complete, the Trust and Society needs to find funding and time to do an archeological dig at Ventiford, clean the Fishwick Feeder, clean off Teign Bridge local and clean Teign Grace Lock before working on the bottom section of the canal so it can have water running through it again.
"We'd like to thank the staff and management of WBB and later Sibelco for without their cooperation and help both at local and head office," said Roger.
"We'd also like to thank all the dedicated volunteers past and present who have worked so hard in some of the most atrocious weather conditions to bring this first phase of restoration of this historic waterway to its conclusion, the councillors from county, district, town and parish councils for their support and encouragement and the directors of Ugbrooke Environmental Ltd for funding the restoration.
"Lastly we are grateful to all the friends and family who when called upon wen that extra mile to make a dream come true."
Built in the 18th Century, the canal was used to transport clay and other minerals from the Bovey Basin and granite from quarries on Dartmoor to the docks at Teignmouth for nearly 150 years. The canal was built by James Templer of Stover House between 1790 and 1792 to serve the ball clay industry in the area. It runs for nearly two miles from Ventiford Basin near Teigngrace to Jetty Marsh on the outskirts of Newton Abbot. From there, barges would follow the tidal Whitelake Channel, then the River Teign to Teignmouth docks, a further 5 miles, where the cargo was transhipped to seagoing coasters.
Around 1820 James Templer's son, George, built the unique Haytor Granite Tramway which carried granite mined on Dartmoor down to the canal basin at Ventiford, on carts running on granite rails mined from the same source. Haytor granite was most notably used in the construction of London Bridge, the British Museum and the National Gallery. The granite trade was short lived, lasting less than 40 years but the canal continued to serve the ball clay industry until 1937. With no other traffic using the canal abandonment followed and the canal became derelict.
For the last 14 or so years the Society and Stover Canal Trust have worked had to restore the historic site putting in thousands of hours to clear the site.
During the opening weekend on August 17-18, there will also be a display of photos showing the work that's been carried out and historic pictures of the canal.