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Kennet and Avon Canal
11:41am Thursday 8th February 2007 in Marlborough & Pewsey Town Guide
THE River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal both wind their way east-west through the area.
The River Kennet flows through Marlborough while the canal builders took a route to the south of the town and just skirting Pewsey.
Narrow boats can be see moored today at Pewsey Wharf where commercial boats once plied.
The warehouse where the canal boats would have unloaded their goods is now a bar and bistro.
Pewsey has its own river, too, the Hampshire Avon that flows through the Market Place on its way down to Christchurch on the south coast.
It was a rowing trip from Pewsey to Christchurch many years ago by a bunch of local men that inspired the Devizes-Westminster canal race that is held every Good Friday.
It is believed the River Kennet was navigable by small boats in Roman times and they were used to take grain grown on the Wiltshire downs to feed the Roman army in Europe.
Today the river is certainly not navigable, other than by canoe perhaps, until downstream of Hungerford.
The Kennet and Avon Canal was built, as its name implies, to connect the two river navigations: the Kennet and Thames in the east and the Bristol Avon in the west.
The canal was opened in 1810 and was the motorway of its day providing transport between the cities of Bristol and Bath and London.
The advent of the railway in 1841 robbed the K&A of much of its trade and it became disused and unnavigable.
The canal was restored largely by volunteers and re-opened as a leisure waterway in 2003.