Thames and Severn Canal

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The Thames and Severn Canal is a (former) canal in Gloucestershire in the south of England, completed in 1789. Its eastern end is Inglesham Lock near Lechlade[1] where it connects with the River Thames. Its western end is Wallbridge near Stroud, where it connects with the end of the Stroudwater Navigation.[2] It has one short arm (branch), from Siddington to the town of Cirencester.

Competition from the railways removed much of the canal's traffic by the end of the 19th century, and most of the canal was abandoned in 1927, the remainder in 1941. Since 1972, the Cotswold Canal Trust has been working to restore the canal as a navigation, with some sections now in water. The intention is to re-open the whole canal, although some major engineering obstacles will need to be overcome to achieve this.



An Act for the construction of the canal was passed in 1783.[3] Josiah Clowes was appointed head engineer, surveyor and carpenter to the canal in 1783 to assist Robert Whitworth. Clowes became resident engineer and was paid £300 per year. Clowes' work on the canal gave him a reputation which made him highly sought after in the last five years of his life. He left the construction of the canal shortly before completion to work on Dudley Tunnel.[4]

The canal was completed in 1789 at a cost of £250,000.[5] With the Stroudwater Navigation, which had been completed in 1779, it completed a link between the River Severn and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal in the west and the River Thames in the east. Both the Stroudwater Navigation and Thames and Severn Canal are "broad canals". This means that boats with a 14 ft (4.3 m) beam could use them.

The Thames and Severn Canal was just under 28.7 miles (46.2 km) long and had 44 locks.[6] The branch to Cirencester added a further 1.5 miles (2.4 km).[6] The canal's summit is 363 feet (111 m) above sea level and includes the 2.1-mile (3.4 km) Sapperton Tunnel. At the time of its completion, this tunnel was the longest in England.

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