Kennet and Avon history engineering architecture and trade
Building on the success and importance of access to the thriving port of Bristol, born out of ideas that were being mooted as early as the the 16th century, it took great feats of engineering and more than 80 years for the K&A to become a continuous navigation in 1810. This provided a safe cross-country trade link transporting vital coal and supporting related industries and a vital link from Bristol on the west coast to London via the River Thames to both london, Oxford and onwards the industrial heartland of the midlands.
It was a new and successful trade link for more than 30 years, with the GWR (Great Western Railway) following its route in 1841. The growing competition and advantage of the speed of the railways and eventual purchase of the K&A by GWR itself led to the demise of the canal in the mid 19th century.
It took more than a hundred years for the renewal and restoration of the canal to begin so we can continue to enjoy the canal as it is today. The painstaking restoration with the enormous help of volunteers, the canal trust and British Waterways included rebuilding 86 derelict locks, 344 rotting lock gates crumbling aqueducts, bridges and buildings was in itself an amazing feat
The canal and its surroundings is once again very much alive and to be enjoyed by us all.