Pewsham Top Lock
I've decided to give my Rivers theme a small break, but I shall return to it. I said that I could think of two main rivers in Wiltshire, both called Avon, but I have now thought of another quite important river whose passage through Wiltshire is somewhat overlooked. I don't intend to restrict myself to the confines of one county either, as I live within easy reach of Somerset, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
However, today, something completely different: canals.
I have previously mentioned the Wilts and Berks Canal, sections of which are undergoing restoration, and today I visited Pewsham Top Lock. This is also being lovingly overhauled, but as you can see, there is some way to go, and the entire project is estimated to take a further thirty years to complete; many times longer than it took to construct in the first place.
Building of the Wilts and Berks Canal began in 1796, 4 million bricks being used between Melksham and Calne, and it was complete as far as Pewsham by 1798. A lot of the damage to this Top Lock occurred during the Second World War, when it was used by our boys for demolition practice.
The boats on the canal were thought to be all horse or donkey drawn. There were 42 locks on the main line, and the most major engineering work was the aqueduct over the Marden at Stanley, the collapse of which in 1901 led to its inevitable demise a few years later, aided by the branch line railway.