Berks & Hants Junction Canal

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2011

Richard Dean

Richard Dean traces proposals to link the Kennet & Avon to the Basingstoke Canal

In promoting and building the Basingstoke Canal, opened throughout in 1794, the promoters always aspired to it becoming part of an important through route either to the south coast via Andover, or to Bristol. After the opening of the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1810, a link to it was the easiest option. This would have formed a Bristol to London line which avoided much of the inefficient Thames Navigation, and several routes were investigated. The project eventually moved forward in 1824 with the engineer Francis Giles being employed to find the shortest convenient junction, and finance promised from both existing companies. His surveys produced a scheme 13 miles long from Old Basing, largely at the Basingstoke level, then falling nearly 50ft by seven locks to the Kennet Navigation near Midgham. The route involved several embankments, cuttings up to 45ft deep, and a half-mile tunnel at Baughurst, at a total estimated cost of £117,600. The application to Parliament was well suppor…

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