The Kennet and Avon Canal
In 1724 the River Kennet was made navigable from Reading to Newbury, and by 1727 boats could reach as far as Bath. For hundreds of years before this people had talked about linking the River Kennet with the River Avon, but it was not until 1794 that a route was fixed via Devizes and an Act was passed. The resulting canal was completed in 1810.
Water supply up to the summit soon became a problem, so in 1812 a steam engine was installed at Crofton to pump water from Wilton Water (amazingly this Boulton & Watt engine is still working today). Three years later a companion Harvey’s engine was also installed.
Despite the impressive length of the Kennt & Avon Canal, through traffic never accounted for more than 6% of the total and the waterway was never prosperous.