Wiltshire

Kennet and Avon Canal's 200th anniversary marked

  • 28 December 2010
  • From the section Wiltshire
Kennet and Avon Canal locks
Image caption Caen Hills 16 locks are listed structures (Pic Ralph Hodgson/British Waterways/PA)

The planting of a new avenue of 29 oak trees has marked the 200th anniversary of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The navigation, which runs between Reading and Bristol, was opened in 1810, joining a number of earlier waterways.

The trees were planted by children from St Joseph's Primary School in Devizes.

The town's MP Claire Perry said: "This wonderful waterway is a brilliant asset to the towns and countryside through which it passes."

The canal had fallen into disrepair by the 1950s, but a £25m Lottery grant allowed a massive programme of regeneration, which began in the 1990s.

'Beautiful waterway'

By 2002, the 87 mile (140km) course was navigable for its entire course and it now generates £43m of income for the places it passes through and indirectly supports 1,300 jobs.

British Waterways chief executive Robin Evans said: "The canal is a beautiful waterway, a real jewel in the crown of the nation's working industrial heritage."

The canal has 116 listed structures, including the Caen Hill Flight of Locks in Devizes.

It is also enjoyed by more than 11 million visitors annually and is home to animals such as water voles, otters and kingfishers.

Mike Rodd, general manager of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust - a volunteer body that helps maintain the watercourse - said: "The canal owes its current success to the dedication of a huge number of volunteers who, over the years, have tirelessly campaigned to keep the canal open."

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