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Wilts and Berks Canal

The Wilts and Berks Canal is a canal, originally in Wiltshire and Berkshire, England. Following county boundary changes its route now lies within Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

The main canal ran from Abingdon on the River Thames through Swindon to Semington on the Kennet and Avon Canal, a distance of about 60 miles. Branches ran to Cricklade, Chippenham, Calne, Wantage and Longcot.

The main canal was opened in 1810, but some branches were operating before this and others were added afterwards. The branch from Swindon to Cricklade linking there to the Thames and Severn Canal was opened in 1819 and known as the North Wilts Canal. Never a great commercial success owing to its narrowness and competition from rail and other canals, the Wilts and Berks Canal nevertheless operated for more than a century before being abandoned in 1914.

A preservation effort for what still remained began in 1977 and ten years later became a major restoration project. It is now planned to restore all of the extensive rural sections, and to construct new sections (including several new tunnels) where urban development has made the original route unavailable.

External Link Restoration project home page