New exhibition launched celebrating the history of the Wilts and Berks Canal

By Jamie Hill - 28 May 2024

Arts and CultureHeritage

The great and the good of Swindon gathered today to launch an exhibition at Central Library in Regent Circus about the Wilts and Berks Canal in Swindon from 1795 to 1914.

The exhibition, which runs from today until Saturday 8 June, is centred upon seven sections from the Ordnance Survey Map made between 1888 and 1915 that cover the Canal in Swindon.

In 1914 the canal was closed by an Act of Parliament but was still a visible presence in the town.

Each map, with pictures by local artist Marilyn Trew, is supported by photos and texts to provide visitors with a sense of the canal, one that the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust aim to fully restore.

Chris Barry, of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, said: "The canal is a vitally important part of Swindon's heritage and I would say that Swindon was originally a canaltown before it ever became a railwaytown.

"It was because the Wilts and Berks Canal intersected with the North Wilts Canal that made the town a perfect choice for Brunel to site the railways works in Swindon as it made the transport of goods that much easier as well as giving the works a good supply of water.

"So you could argue that there would not be any railwaytown without a canaltown first.

"This exhibition is an opportunity for people to get a real insight into the historical importance of the canal and our current efforts to restore it and the huge benefit that would have for the town both financially and for its wellbeing."


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