Queen of Waters

by Kirsten Elliott

The Kennet & Avon Canal was the wonder of its age, a broad waterway built across southern England as a trade route between the country’s two greatest ports – London and Bristol. It changed the countryside through which it passed forever. Yet only 30 years after it was completed, Brunel’s Great Western Railway opened, robbing it of much of its traffic. After decades of neglect came ultimate dereliction. It lay like a sleeping princess, weed-choked and silent, its locks and bridges crumbling – but some people refused to let it die. Thanks to their efforts, it was eventually restored, to become once more the Queen of Waters. Two hundred years after the first cargoes sailed along it, and twenty years on from its grand reopening, this book pays tribute to the canal that refused to die.