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Bremhill Parish

Bremhill, Foxham, The Tythertons & surrounding villages

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Wits and Berks canal

The Wilts and Berks Canal ran through the centre of the parish from the north east to the south west. The canal was completed in 1810 at a cost of £250,000 and ran from Abingdon on the Thames to Semington on the Kennet and Avon. It ran through mainly agricultural land and was 52 miles long; its main use was for transporting coal. One of the reasons for opening the canal was to extend the area in which coal from the Somerset pits could be sold but unfortunately the Somerset coal pits could not provide enough coal for the demand. If the pits produced 2,020 tons a week, 1,389 went down the Somersetshire Coal Canal but only 500 tons reached the Wilts and Berks Canal. The canal was not a success and only paid dividends to its shareholders for about 10 years. De Salis managed to navigate the Wilts and Berks Canal in 1895 but nine years later he said that although the canal was not officially closed, the system had ‘practically ceased owing to the income being insufficient to meet the cost of maintenance’.

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