The Kennet and Avon Canal
is a canal
in southern England. The name may refer to either the route of the original Kennet and Avon Canal Company, which linked the River Kennet
to the River Avon
, or to the entire navigation between the River Thames
and the Floating Harbour
, including the earlier improved river navigations of the River Kennet between Reading and Newbury and the River Avon between Bath and Bristol.
The River Kennet was made navigable to Newbury in 1723, and the River Avon to Bath in 1727. The Kennet and Avon Canal between Newbury and Bath was built between 1794 and 1810 by John Rennie, to convey commercial barges carrying a variety of cargoes. and is 57 miles (92 km) long. The two river navigations and the canal total 87 miles (140 km) in length. The section from Bristol to Bath is the course of the River Avon, which flows through a wide valley and has been made navigable by a series of locks and weirs. In the later 19th century and early 20th century the canal fell into disuse following competition from the Great Western Railway, who owned the canal. Between 1970 and 1990 the canal was restored, largely by volunteers, and today is a popular heritage tourism destination, for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling. It is also important for wildlife conservation.
There are a total of 105 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal from Bristol to the River Thames, including 6 on the navigable section of the River Avon from Bristol to Bath and 9 on the navigable section of the River Kennet to its confluence with the Thames near Reading. The remaining 90 locks lie along the 57 miles (92 km) of canal. In Bath the canal separates from the river but follows its valley as far as Bradford on Avon. The ornate Bath Locks lead to a stretch through Limpley Stoke valley with few locks. The flight of locks at Devizes, including the Caen Hill Locks, raises the canal to its longest pound, which then ascends the 4 Wooton Rivers locks to the short summit pound which includes the Bruce Tunnel. Pumping stations are used to supply the canal with water. The canal continues through the rural landscape of Wiltshire and Berkshire before joining the River Kennet at Newbury and becoming a navigable river to Reading, where it flows into the River Thames.
Michael James Wallace Ashley (born 1963 in Burnham, Buckinghamshire) is an English billionaire retail entrepreneur, in the sporting goods market. He is also the owner of Newcastle United after paying around £135 million to buy the club.
Ranked 54th in the 2008 version of the Sunday Times Rich List with estimated wealth of £1.4 billion, Ashley was seen as an intensely private person, who never attended industry functions or gives interviews. Philip Beresforde, who compiles the annual Sunday Times list, said neither he nor his staff have ever managed to contact Ashley, and describes him as "easily Britain's answer to the late Howard Hughes." However, since Sports Direct International Plc went public, and his purchase of Newcastle United where he has taken to sitting in the stands with fans, Ashley has taken on a more public and accessible persona.