Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Devizes Canal Lock Staircase

Sunday 26 May 1998. As we motored away from West Kennet Long Barrow we passed through the Wiltshire town of Devizes. As we passed over a bridge, crossing the Kennet and Avon Canal I saw the familiar black and white beams and remembered that Devizes has a famous flight of locks.

I parked the car and we walked back over the road and onto the towpath. There are 29 locks in a little over 2 miles but here at Caen Hill the 16 locks are so close they resemble a flight of stairs.

The best place to photograph them is from the bottom of the flight of course, but I had parked at the top and time was pressing.

Besides, the Lock Cottage Tea Room is near the top and we were served scones with jam and clotted cream and took a table by the window with a view of the locks. Very pleasant!

An elderly gentleman came in with his family and sat solemnly down at the next table before turning to me and then commencing to "play" the table as a piano. We shared conspiratorial grins as he confided "I like to joke!" whilst his family chided him to behave.

The Kennet and Avon Canal links the River Avon to the River Kennet by the way of 57 miles of man-made waterway that was completed in 1810. A mere 31 years later the arrival of the railway left the canal in decline and by 1952 it was largely unnavigable.

Thanks to the efforts of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, together with British Waterways and Local Authorities, 86 derelict locks, the bed of the canal, aqueducts and pumping stations have been restored to make the canal navigable again between Reading and Bristol.

Large versions of the photos: all the photos of this holiday are available as a set at Flickr.

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