The Wilts and Berks Canal

This canal, built to the narrow (7 feet wide) size, linked the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington with the River Thames at Abingdon. It took in some places of some industrial importance at various times, either on the main line or on branches. These included the towns of Calne, Chippenham and Swindon and also Wantage.

The canal opened in 1810 but was never much of a commercial success. By 1841 railways were taking over freight traffic from canals and a final straw came with an aqueduct collapse in 1901.

The canal was officially abandoned in 1914.

These days there is a society hoping to reinstate the canal. Progress is slow, but is being made on this canal which has been out of use for more than 100 years.

Back in 2004 we were in the vicinity of Dauntsey and I took a couple of photos.

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Here’s a bit of clear canal, with water. It looks quite hopeful for restoration here. But nearby is a lock.

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This was clearly undergoing restoration. The brickwork looks modern and a vertical ladder has been put in. Away from the lock the course of the canal needs a bit of the eye of faith to make it out.

But never say never! The Kennet and Avon Canal was a wreck into the 1970s but is now a fully open and thriving leisure waterway. The Wilts and Berks would make a good link for happy boat folk.

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