Friday, 15 May 2009

Midford Aqueduct

Midford Aqueduct
Somersetshire Coal Canal (Disused)

This could only happen in England!
What are the chances of securing funding to restore an aqueduct, abandoned for 100 years, to its original 1815 specifications? What are the chances when the cost is close to £700,000 and the aqueduct is on a disused branch of a disused branch that lead to.... an abandoned tramway!
I like to think that I am an optimist, I would have to say that the chances of success are about as great as me winning the EuroMillions this weekend.
Well, somehow a case was agreed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to stump up this very considerable sum and bring this crumbling edifice over the Cam Brook back from the brink.

Midford Aqueduct before restoration

The Somersetshire Coal Canal did very much what it says on the tin. It carried coal from the nearby mines to Bath, in much the same way that the Bridgewater carried coal to Manchester. The canal was surveyed by John Rennie, assisted by William Smith, branching off the Kennet and Avon at Dundas along two 10 mile arms. The canal prospered from 1815 to 1870 but inevitably the railways arrived and killed the trade, inflicting the ultimate humiliation of laying their tracks along much of the line.

...and after restoration

The aqueduct carries the architectural signature of Rennie and is an asset to the landscape. However, I am still amazed that such an obscure and little visited structure should have been endowed with such a sum. The good news is that it is only one lock above the Kennet and Avon, and it is feasible to imagine a navigable channel being reinstated as a staging post to a full restoration to Paulton at some point in the future.

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