Above Midgham lock

When I. K. Brunel built the Great Western Railaway line from London to Bristol, for much of the way from Reading onwards, he followed the line of the Kennet & Avon canal. This gave him two advantages. Firstly Rennie had already surveyed a fairly level route and overcome some of the geographic obstacles, and secondly the canal was used to transport materials during the building phase. Unfortunately this meant that the canal had a competitor only about 40 years after it was opened, so had a fairly short life. For modern day boaters this has meant the disadvantage that finding a quiet overnight mooring is difficult. But the upside is that 3G reception along most of the canal is good!.

During World War II the K&A was seen as a natural line of defence should Britain ever get invaded. If the Germans ever got a foothold on the south coast there was a well established plan to effectively abandon England south of a line from London to Bristol. It was thought that the canal (& river Thames) could be defended against a tank crossing. At regular intervals along the canal “pill boxes” were constructed as part of this defence. Also many of the bridges were blocked with “tank traps”, large blocks of concrete obstructing the way. Many of these are still there. Some of them are now protected structures as they are of “historical interest”. It seems to me that half a dozen squadies with machine guns wouldn’t be much defence again a marauding Nazi army!

The canal through Newbury is very attractive:

Our overnight mooring on a very attractive and peaceful stretch of the River Kennet

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