The Kennet and Avon Canal, links Bath on the Bristol Avon with Newbury where it joins the River Kennet, which flows into the Thames at Reading. It has a total length of 92 km and is the most southerly of the cross-country canals in England. It was engineered by John Rennie, and opened throughout in 1810, but declined after 1841 when it was taken over by the Great Western Railway.
The canal was disused in the 1940s but has steadily been restored by British Waterways in partnership with an independent body, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. It was officially re-opened in 1990 but substantial works still have to be undertaken before it becomes a wholly reliable year-round navigation.
The canal comprises a succession of spectacular engineering works, an elegant headquarters building in Bath that spans the waterway, two fine stone aqueducts across the River Avon at Avoncliff and Dundas, a unique water-powered beam pumping engine at Claverton, a flight of 29 locks at Devizes, and a pumping station at Crofton that includes a beam pumping engine built by Boulton & Watt in 1812, the oldest beam engine that can still be worked, and a larger engine installed in 1846 by Harveys of Hayle.