River Avon, Warwickshire

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The River Avon or Avon (pronounced /ˈeɪvən/) is a river in or adjoining the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire in the Midlands of England. Also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon, it has been divided since 1719 into the Lower Avon, below Evesham, and the Upper Avon, from Evesham to above Stratford-upon-Avon.

Improvements to aid navigation began in 1635, and a series of locks and weirs made it possible to reach Stratford, and to within 4 miles (6.4 km) of Warwick. The Upper Avon was tortuous and prone to flooding, and was abandoned as a navigation in 1877. The Lower Avon struggled on, and never really closed, although it was only navigable below Pershore by 1945.

Restoration of the lower river as a navigable waterway began in 1950, and was completed in 1962. The upper river was a more daunting task, as most of the locks and weirs were no longer extant. Work began in 1965 on the construction of nine new locks and 17 miles (27 km) of river, using mainly volunteer labour, and was completed in 1974 when it was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Plans to extend the navigable river to provide a link with the Grand Union Canal at either Warwick or Leamington Spa have met with some opposition.

Contents

Etymology

"Avon" derives from the British language abona, "river", which also survives as a number of other English and Scottish river names, and as modern Welsh afon (pronounced [ˈavɔn]), "river".

The river is also known as the Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon.[1]

Course

The source of the Avon is near the village of Naseby in Northamptonshire. For the first few miles of its length between Welford and the Dow Bridge on Watling Street, it forms the border between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. On this section, it has been dammed to create Stanford Reservoir. It then flows in a generally west-southwesterly direction, not far north of the Cotswold Edge and through the Vale of Evesham, passing through the towns and villages of Welford, Rugby, Wolston, (bordering Leamington Spa), Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Welford-on-Avon, Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham and Pershore, before it joins the River Severn at Tewkesbury.

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