Friday, 15 May 2009

Dundas Aqueduct

Dundas Aqueduct
Kennet and Avon Canal

Belle often criticises me for waxing lyrical about so much on the waterways, but please indulge me on this one.
This is undoubtedly the most beautiful aqueduct in the UK, but not necessarily my favourite (see Engine Arm Aqueduct on the BCN). The structure was probably John Rennie's finest architectural achievement, built of same mellow Bath Stone which has played such a big part in Bath's enduring popularity over the last 2000 years.
Rennie went to town on this 150 yard structure, with its 64ft semicircular central span and two 20ft elliptical arches on each side. The end result is wonderfully balanced and finished off with Doric Palisters and balustrades at either end.
The Aqueduct took four years to build, being completed in 1801 and was brought into service in 1805. Unsurprisingly, it has suffered leaks over the years and was closed in 1954, and dewatered in the 1960's and 70's prior to renovation and reopening in 1984.

A far cry from the industrial utility of the BCN!

For once I am not alone in my appreciation of this aqueduct. It carries a Grade One listing, and has the distinction of being the very first canal structure to be a scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1951.

If you only ever take one bit of advice from me, take this: Stop the boat at the junction with the Somerset Coal Canal and walk down to the bank of the River Avon, then savour the experience.

Some people ask me why God made such an extraordinarily amazing Universe, to which I reply... because he could. Rennie's Dundas Aqueduct dosn't quite have the Universal "wow" factor, but why create such a beautiful answer when something simpler would have done? Because he could, I guess.

Its good to see that the restorers were equally inspired and were able to deliver new sections which matched the originals so well.

1 comment:

  1. The architectural lines are wonderful! Beautiful!