Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Calne Town Trail via the Wilts & Berks Canal and the old Railwayline.

Red ER pillarbox and Blue Plaque
Yesterday we recced the outskirts of Calne and the Town Trail, an interesting walk around the little town situated about six miles from Devizes.  The main A4 Bath Road runs through the town centre, but if you walk the side streets, a whole new world of interesting buildings and history opens up to be explored.  The photo left shows two iconic symbols of Englishness, a red pillarbox and a blue plaque.  All pillarboxes have the  royal crest and initials of the incumbant monarch imprinted at the time of casting. The Blue Plaque scheme recognises places where famous people have lived, worked  or died.  This one commemorates Dr Jan Ingenhousz who, with others, discovered photosynthesis.  Further along the street is the house where Dr Joseph Priestly, the discoverer of Oxygen in 1774, lived and worked.  A blue plaque here commemorates his work.

Below, the recently restored "Chaveywell Bridge" spans the Calne Arm of the Wilts & Berks canal.  The main line of the W&B canal connected the Kennet & Avon canal with the River Thames at Abingdon, but is long abandoned and infilled.  Sections have been restored,  and it is hoped that one day it will be open again to boats, with Swindon, once again, having  a  the canal running through the city.  Many canals throughout England are being restored, as people realise their potential for leisure activities, including: boating, fishing, jogging, walking, birdwatching and industrial history studies.
The newly restored "Chaveywell Bridge" spans the Calne Arm of the Wilts and Berks Canal.

The path towards the distant derelict canal and railwayline.
The railway once ran through Calne connecting it to Bristol and Bath in the west and Reading in the east.  The line was abandoned in 1960, when many lines in Britain were axed to save money, a decision now regarded as a somewhat shortsighted.  However the defunct line has become an easy, level walk which connects Calne with nearby Chippenham.  We walked part yesterday, and discovered some relics of the old railway line, pieces of metal fencing and the top of a telegraph pole.  The line of the old canal is still visible, with one section restored and in water, and an old lock being renovated as a visitor attraction.
The soft coloured houses in a Calne backstreet. 

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