Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
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Kennet and Avon Canal

Description: This recently restored navigation (re-opened by HM The Queen on 8 August 1990) runs 86.5 miles from High Bridge Reading, where it joins the River Thames, to Hanham Lock, where it joins the Bristol Avon.

History: Promoted by Acts of 1794, 1796, 1798, 1801, 1805, 1809 and 1813.fully completed when the Caen Hill Locks were finished on 28 December 1810. Bought by the Great Western Railway in 1852. In May 1950 a stoppage at Burghfield, near Reading, made the canal impassable. This was the last year that the whole canal was navigable before its restoration in 1990. In 1952 Caen Hill Locks at Devizes were impassable.

See Priestley's Navigable Rivers and Canals for more information.

January 1718

John Hore

He was appointed engineer of the River Kennet and shortened the length of the navigation to 18.5 miles, 11.5 miles of which were artificial cuts.

January 1728

John Hore

He produced some figures of what was spent on making the Kennet navigable but these were rejected by the proprietors as he had kept no proper accounts. He was therefore not given the money he was claiming.

Late January 1788

James Barnes

Made a survey of the line of the new canal.

Late January 1788

Samuel Simcock

He, Samuel Weston and James Barnes made surveys for narrow and barge canals from Newbury to Bath.

Late January 1788

Samuel Weston

He, Samuel Simcock and James Barnes made surveys for narrow and barge canals from Newbury to Bath.

August 1789

Robert Whitworth

Having a few months earlier received for comment the surveys of Samuel Weston, Samuel Simcock and James Barnes he reported favouring a line through Hungerford, Marlborough and Calne, subject to the water supplies being satisfactory.

November 1790

John Rennie

He reports that the water supply for the proposed canal is adequate, thus allaying doubts raised by Robert Whitworth's survey.

January 1793

Dennis Edson

Was employed to survey a possible canal from Bath to Bristol to bypass the river Avon.

January 1793

John Rennie

He was asked to make a new survey and communicate the results to Robert Whitworth, who was to advise the committee.He selected a route through Devizes with two branches one to Marlborough and the other to Calne and Chippenham.

Early January 1793

Robert Whitworth

John Rennie was asked to make a new survey of the canal and to communicate the results to him.

January 1794

Promoted by Act.

January 1796

Promoted by a further Act.

January 1798

Promoted by a further Acts.

January 1799

John Rennie

The canal committee received complaints about the management of the company affairs which developed into an attack on Rennie. He was later exonerated.

January 1801

Promoted by a further Act.

January 1804

John Rennie

He estimated that 415,100 more was needed for construction.

January 1805

Promoted by a further Act.

January 1809

Promoted by a further Act.

January 1810

Fully completed when the Caen Hill Locks were finished on 28 December 1810.

January 1813

Promoted by a final Act.

Early January 1825

John Blackwell

As the company engineer he was instructed to go into the North of England to see the operation of railways and locomotives and to report back to the committee.

10th September 1834

John Blackwell

Was directed to visit every part of the navigation to identify cost savings and improvements to trade.

After January 1838

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Suggests a junction between the Great Western Railway and canal at Reading.

28th October 1845

James Walker

He reported to the committee on their proposal to convert the towing path or the canal into a railway. He said that by rough walling the sides of the canal there would be enough room for two broad gauge lines and a better canal than at present. He estimated the cost as 800,000.

January 1852

Bought by the Great Western Railway.

January 1916

The Kennet & Avon Canal. By P Bonthron. First published.

January 1932

Kennet Country by Fred S Thacker, Published by Blackwell Publishers (Basil Blackwell Ltd).

January 1950

In May a stoppage at Burghfield, near Reading, made the canal impassable. This was the last year that the whole canal was navigable before its restoration in 1990.

January 1952

Caen Hill Locks at Devizes were impassable.

January 1968

The Kennet and Avon Canal - written by Kenneth R Clew , Published by David & Charles - An illustrated History.

January 1985

The Kennet by Wilson Stephenson, Published by Frederick Muller - Part of the Rivers of Britain series.

January 1990

The 29 locks at Caen Hill, Devizes, were reopened by HM The Queen on 8th August 1990.

January 1997

Pub Walks Along the Kennet & Avon Canal by Nigel Vine, Published by Countryside Books - 20 Pub Walks on the Canal.

January 1997

The Kennet & Avon Canal by John Russell, Published by Millstream Books.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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