Towpath tales wanted

Published: Thursday, 10 June 2010

BRITISH Waterways is asking the people of Bath to tell them their tales of the towpath this summer in a bid to record people's memories of the area known as the Bath Flight of Locks.

This is part of a proposed new scheme to restore this stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal to its former glory, as the canal in Bath was built to reflect the Georgian splendour of the city, making the waterway not only a useful trade route, but also a pleasant place to look at. This was an unusual way to build a canal, as they were more often constructed with a more industrial design, as the ‘motorways of their day'.

A result of this decorative construction is that the 1,700 yards stretch of the canal which is home to the Bath Flight of Locks now hosts 19 listed structures along its length. These structures range from pumping stations and wrought iron bridges to an ornate stone chimney, Bath stone warehouses, wharfs and canal side cottages.

British Waterways is now working with local groups, including the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, to restore this unique stretch of waterway heritage and secure the scenic canalside for the future.

British Waterways' project manager, Sarah Brice explained:

"This is a really lovely stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal, with fantastic views over the city and home to an amazing array of historic structures. British Waterways has put together a scheme to restore the listed structures, including the ornate chimney, along this section of the canal.

"Whilst we wait for our funding bids to be considered, we are working with volunteers to improve the towpath, cut back vegetation and make the place feel a bit more loved. We are also hoping to find out from people what their memories of the canal are, what they think is important and how the canal fits into the working heritage of Bath. I hope we'll get a great response, already people have told me really quirky bits of information about the flight, and these little snippets really help to bring the history of a place to life."

The memories and stories that people tell British Waterways will be recorded and used to inform an interpretation project around the canal, which is another element of the scheme to restore the area around the Bath Flight of Locks.