ABC Wednesday - C is for...
Even better, this is part of Caen Hill flight near Devizes, taken last Saturday. There was meant to be an open weekend there as three of the sets of lock gates are being replaced at the moment. However, there was no sign of activity when I was there - so I took this shot of a lock entrance instead. The replacement of 2 sets of gates last year was recorded in pictures, so it'll give you a good idea of what I should have seen.
The canal pictured is the Kennet & Avon which links the River Kennet at Reading to the River Avon at Bath. The canal was to have been routed through Chippenham, but some scurilous parliamentary wheeling and dealing by the Devizes MPs got the canal re-routed through their town. This left the brilliant engineer, John Rennie with a problem - a rise of 272 feet over 2 miles, in canal terms that's steep. His solution was to build 29 locks over that distance, with 16 of them forming the Caen Hill flight. It's a wonder of the UK's waterways as the locks rise in a staircase formation, with pounds (like a large pond) between each lock holding a reserve water supply.
The canal took 16 years to build and opened in 1810. 4 million bricks were used in the construction of Caen Hill alone (the last part of the canal to be built), with the clay from digging out the canal being used to make the bricks - how's that for recycling! The canal prospered for 30 years, but the opening of Brunel's Great Western Railway (GWR) from London to Bristol in 1841 soon led to it's demise. In 1852 GWR took over the running of the canal, but as they had no vested interest, it was left to further decay and finally stopped trading in the 1920s. Restoration started in the 1950s, and gained momentum in the 1980s, particularly when Heritage Lottery funding became available. It was reopened by The Queen in 1990. Further restoration is ongoing through the auspices of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and today the canal is a fantastic leisure resource for Wiltshire. Take a pictorial ride through Caen Hill yourself, by clicking here.
For further ABC Wednesday pictures, do pop over to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.