The old Wilts & Berks Canal.

On a nice sunny morning not so long ago, the hubby and I decided to do a bit of exploring. Being boaty people we found ourselves at the site of the old Wilts & Berks canal in Grove, Wantage:
We started just before Grove Common Lock and made towards Abingdon, scurrying through undergrowth and falling in ditches.
Not much remains of the cut and it is easily mistaken for an old drainage ditch but, here and there, dotted amongst the fly tipping is the evidence of once used locks. Nature has reclaimed most of it and the bricks are crumbling away.
Work on the Wilts & Berks canal was started in 1795 and 52 miles and 15 years later it stretched from Semington Junction on the Kennet & Avon Canal to Abingdon on the River Thames. It opened up a transportation route for coal and other materials to London, Swindon and Oxford.
Like many now abandoned canals it fell victim to the advancement of the railways and other more efficient means of haulage. Ironically, it aided it's own ruin by being one of the main routes used by GWR to carry the materials used to construct the railway.
By the 1901, the canal was completely abandoned after part of the Stanley Aqueduct collapsed and the canal ran dry.

Source: WBCT.


Avus said...

That's absolutely fascinating! I love industrial archaeology. there is a lot of material for a "Time Team" TV special here.

Knowleypowley said...


Does my heart good to see such a wonderful and evocative piece. Mrs KP and I intend to retire onto a narrow boat (money, kids and life allowing. Would love to investigate the history of canals. Thanks very much


valonia said...

Avus - I hope to do a follow up sometime and retrace the canal further. Maybe I should ask Timeteam to do the work for me?

KP - You can have our boat, it's not so leaky at the moment!

eretria said...

Oh, what excellent moody photo opportunities!

valonia said...

Next time you visit we'll take you there as you'd have such a fab time with your camera. Unfortuneately, my pics don't do much justice. I'd love to see what you would produce.