Explore Bradford: The Canal Wharves

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Past the Canal Tavern pub the Frome Road does a sharp double bend over a hump-back bridge which takes it across the Kennet & Avon Canal. Beneath the bridge is the first canal lock above Bath, which separates lower and upper canal wharves. The lower wharf mainly handled coal coming from the Somerset coalfield and stone going westwards, while the upper wharf handled various goods coming from the other direction, especially barley for malthouses.

> Explore the Kennet & Avon Canal within the Bradford Hundred boundaries

Click on the thumbnail pictures for a bigger view.

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The canal lockThe canal lock in action. Two narrow boats can be raised or lowered at a time because the Kennet & Avon Canal was built to handle wide-beamed barges. Because of the need for water conservation, the water that is used in the operation is pumped back each time.

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Kennet & Avon Canal upper wharf, Frome Road At the Upper Wharf  are a warehouse and a gauging dock, the former manager’s house and the house of the lock-keeper.

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Canal gauging dockThe gauging dock was used to calculate the load of barges so that the right tolls could be charged. It is today a dry dock that is used for repairing and painting  barges.

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Wharf Manager's house, Frome RoadThe former canal Wharf Manager’s house, recently given the name of Merriman House, is a handsome ashlar-fronted building of about 1810, with intricately carved vermiculation around the doorway. Alongside is the old stable for horses.

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Canal Trust tea shopThe Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s tea shop was once the house of the lock-keeper. He also had a small office next to the lock where tolls were taken on traffic through the lock.

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.> Canal Quarry geological site

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The Barge Inn, Frome RoadThe Barge Inn seems to have opened shortly after the canal (1810); it was certainly there, serving bargees and locals, in 1826.

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Canal Lower WharfThe Lower Wharf, below the lock, seen from the Frome Road bridge. Formerly there was a big crane here and the canal wall did not come out so far. Today, there are canoes for hire here and this is a popular place for eating at the Canal Tavern and the Lock Inn.

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bill from Thomas Wilkins, Canal Wharf 1872A bill from Thomas Wilkins at the Lower Wharf for “brush coal” to the Stephen Moulton Rubber Company in 1872. This may have been charcoal, which was ground to carbon powder and added to rubber.

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Lower Wharf warehouseAn old warehouse survives at the Lower Wharf, now converted into a shop.

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