Forty years later, the Navigation had settled down to be a very profitable business as these accounts from 1822 show.
Coal accounted for 95% of the tonnage, carried at a rate of 5d (2p) per ton per mile. The shareholders received a dividend of £22 per share that year. A return of almost 15% on their investment of £150.
So profitable was the canal, that a meeting was held at the George Inn, Stroud, in July 1824, proposing the building of a horse-drawn tramway to compete with the canal. Of the Committee elected at that meeting, twelve men were involved in the cloth trade and two were landowners. The clothiers of Stroud were as keen on cheaper coal as their predecessors had been fifty years earlier.
The Navigation reduced its tolls to 4d per ton/mile with the promise of further reductions if the scheme were dropped.
In 1825, the House of Commons rejected the Stroud & Severn Railroad Bill, but campaigning against it had cost the Navigation over £1,300. It was not the last they were to hear of railways. In the meantime, strict rules were laid down for those who used the canal.