Saturday, 12 April 2014

K is for Kennet and Avon Canal

Here are the local dialect words starting with the letter K.  Do you know what a keeker is? What does 'kin refer to?  What are you doing if you keck?  The answers are at the end of this post.

Eighty-seven miles long, the Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway made up of two navigable rivers linked by a canal.  The name applies to the entire waterway but the actual canal part runs from Bath to Newbury, linking the River Thames and the River Avon. It is a fantastic feat of engineering; not only the canal but the locks (105 of them), tunnels, pumping stations and numerous aqueducts.

So, a brief history of the canal - you can read more detail about it here if you want to. One thing I didn't know before writing this post was that the idea to link the two rivers was first raised during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1568 -1603) although it didn't actually get under way until 1718. Originally built as a cheap and efficient way to transport goods to London, the use of the canal went into decline with the introduction of the railways, although haulage never completely ceased.  However, the canal fell into disrepair and large sections of the canal were closed as a result of poor maintenance making what little haulage there was virtually impossible.

The Kennet and Avon Canal Association was formed in 1951 but in 1955 the Transport Commission petitioned Parliament to completely close the canal.  However, in the 1960s after lots of campaigning it was decided to support the regeneration of the various schemes to redevelop the canal and in 1962 the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust was formed.  The extensive restoration work was carried out by the combined efforts of British Waterways and volunteers and in 1990 the canal was officially re-opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Kennet and Avon canal is now not only popular for boating (narrowboats and cruisers), cycling and fishing but it is also an important environment for wildlife conservation.  I have added some videos to show what the canal in this area is like today.  I hope you enjoy them.   
The flight of locks at Caen Hill, Devizes

I'll end this post with the answers to the dialect words: 
  • keeker - the windpipe
  • 'kin - the washings left after the best cider is made
  • keck - to retch
Hope to see you on Monday for the letter L.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. You're right, it IS an amazing feat of engineering, it boggles the mind to realize how long ago it was made! Your blog always make me want to visit the UK - I'll have to start a notebook with the dialect words to take with me for when I do :)