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Proprietors of the River Kennet Navigation


Records of the Proprietors of the River Kennet Navigation: plans of the navigation 1731 and 1795.



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Access Status

These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

Under an Act of 1715, the River Kennet was made a navigation from Reading to Newbury, joining the Thames at Reading. The engineer from 1718 was John Hore. He straightened the river by making 11 1/2 miles of cuts, and building 20 turf-sided locks. The works were complete by 1724; this included a horse path. The total distance of 18 1/2 miles became navigable for 80-ton Thames barges. The Kennet was short of money, poorly run and suffered opposition by millers and Reading bargemen as the centre of distribution had moved to Newbury. From 1767 a coal trader who owned barges, Francis Page, became a proprietor and later sole owner. On taking control, he closed the London office, and had the books sent to Newbury. He helped improve the river by enlarging locks. Francis Page died in 1784, leaving his sons, Frederick and Francis Page to succeed to the navigation. The Kennet navigation was bought by the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1812. For further information on the River Kennet see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and Charles Hadfield's 'The Canals of South and South East England'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.

Associated material

[See also: BW104 for records of the River Kennet under Kennet and Avon Canal ownership]