Kennet and Avon CanalThe Kennet and Avon Canal is a canal in southern England. It is joined to the Bristol Avon at Bath, and the Rivers Kennet and Thames at Reading. The canal is 57 miles long, but together with the Avon Navigation, and Kennet Navigation it totals 87 miles.
Designed by engineer John Rennie, construction of the canal started in 1794. The canal opened in 1810, with some impressive engineering feats, including a number of aquaducts, pumping stations and locks. The Great Western Railway relieved the canal of much of its traffic when it opened, and in 1846 the GWR Company took over the running of the canal, levying high tolls untill the canal was hardly used.
In the 1950s large portions of the canal were closed because of poor lock maintainance, and in 1956 the Kennet & Avon canal trust succesfully petitioned against its legal closure. In 1963 the newly formed British Waterways took over the canal and began restoration work. In 1990 Queen Elizabeth II reopened the canal, but because of problems with pumping the canal remained part-time, until August 1, 1996 when new backpumps were installed at the flight of 29 locks at Devises. These pump 300,000 gallons of water each hour 235 feet. In October 1995 the Heritage Lottery Fund granted the project £25 million towards further structural improvements and maintainance.
The canal today is a popular heritage tourism destination, especially around the city of Bath, a popular cultural and historical tourist destination. The canal is also important for wildlife conservation.