Visiting the High Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal, Reading, Berkshire, England: gracious structure completed 1788
Stately structure over quiet, ever present, Downtown waters
This gracious-looking in Reading, Berkshire, England, was commenced in 1787 and completed the following year. Built by Robert F. Brettingham (1750-c.1806)(1), it is one of a diminishing number of structures dating from the 18th century which the town has retained.
Known locally as the High Bridge, its more formal name is Duke Street Bridge, from the fact that it links Duke Street with London Street near the Downtown area of Reading. Spanning the Kennet River, the Bridge is one of a number of bridges to cross this popular waterway.
Executed in Portland stone, it is the oldest surviving bridge over the Kennet River. The design exhibits what is known as a vermiculated arch.
Together with the nearby Thames River, the presence of the Kennet in Reading makes it somewhat of a town upon water, with various riverside walkways.
The Kennet River links with the Kennet and Avon Canal, which navigates to Bath and Bristol in the West of England; the River itself extends to Newbury, Berkshire. As a tributary of the Thames, its confluence with this more famous River is situated at Reading. The Canal features over 100 locks. Work began on the Canal in the late 18th century and by the early 19th century it was being put to considerable commercial use. Over the years it fell into disuse, however. North American visitors to Europe will observe that commercial canal and river use is of major importance on the Continent; in England, however, its once extensive canal network was neglected for many years. Only in recent decades have some of these canals been made navigable once again. Recent work on the Kennet and Avon Canal was partly undertaken by volunteers. Navigation on the Canal is thus principally for purposes of recreation and tourism.
In and around the Kennet, fauna such as brown trout and water vole, Tiger moth and mayflies are among common species which make it their habitat.
The name 'Kennet' will also be recognized by Australians, from the River of the same name in Victoria; New Zealanders will also recall the Kennet River in South Island.
October 3, 2012
(1) Other works by Architect Brettingham include prolific work on many London private properties; he also built a number of prisons.
Also worth seeing
In Reading itself, Reading Abbey ruins include the Hospitium, formerly housing the 19th century College from which Reading University later developed. The Church of St Lawrence in Reading is a Medieval landmark. The Town Hall frontage is by Alfred Waterhouse. At the London Road site of Reading University, the War Memorial Tower and the Old Library are of note, as are Wantage Hall and St Patrick's Hall, and Foxhill.
How to get there
United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Distance from Heathrow Airport to Reading is 49 kilometres. A regular bus link exists between Heathrow Airport and Reading. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the Town Hall, Reading, Berkshire, England: Victorian Gothic by Alfred Waterhouse
- Visiting Forbury Gardens, Reading, England and the Maiwand Lion: gigantic memorial, with insights in
- Visiting the Great Hall, Reading University, Reading, England: gracious, red brick building dating f
- Visiting Oxford, England, and its Bridge of Sighs: noted, architectural feature at Hertford College
- Visiting Reading, England and its Medieval Abbey Hospitium: restored building linked with the later
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