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Visiting the High Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal, Reading, Berkshire, England: gracious structure completed 1788

Updated on October 3, 2012
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
High Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal in Reading
High Bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal in Reading | Source
The Kennet River, Reading, looking ahead to the bridge on Duke Street
The Kennet River, Reading, looking ahead to the bridge on Duke Street | Source
The Kennet River, Reading, looking upstream towards the town centre.
The Kennet River, Reading, looking upstream towards the town centre. | Source
The Kennet River, Reading, looking downstream towards the bridge on Forbury Road.
The Kennet River, Reading, looking downstream towards the bridge on Forbury Road. | Source
Map location of Berkshire, United Kingdom
Map location of Berkshire, United Kingdom | Source

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

Note

(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.

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    • Funom Makama 3 profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 4 years ago from Europe

      This is lovely. You have taken your time to talk about these particular places in London which is excellent and concise. Thanks for the share

    • MJFenn profile image
      Author

      MJFenn 4 years ago

      Funom Makama3: You are welcome; actually, Reading is about 70 kilometres west of London. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for another trip down memory lane. Just a small point, in UK we say the River Thames and the River Kennet. Aiming for perfection!

    • MJFenn profile image
      Author

      MJFenn 4 years ago

      Gypsy Willow: I guess it's writer's licence! (I'm in Canada! Another example: I think that not many people in Great Britain would say: 'New York City', but over here 'New York City' differentiates from 'New York' as a state.) Thank-you for your comment.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Touche

    • MJFenn profile image
      Author

      MJFenn 4 years ago

      Gypsy Willow: Thank-you again.

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