Sail Across the Sky

by Gethin Thomas March. 08, 2021 224 views

Bearley, Warwickshire

Year completed 1816

Engineer William Whitmore

Maintained by Canal & River Trust

Listed status Grade II*

The Edstone Aqueduct, also known as the Bearley Aqueduct, carries the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal over Salters Lane, the North Warwickshire Railway Line, and a small river. It is the longest canal aqueduct in England measuring 479ft (146m) and is unusual in that the towpath is at the base of the canal, not at water level.

There are fourteen spans between thirteen tapering brick piers made from English bond grey bricks and regular coursed stone. Two wrought-iron girders between each span support the cast-iron trough and the towpath. The trough consists of 35 plates each side. Every plate measure 14 foot (4.28m) long and 1 inch (2.54cm) thick.

For those not familiar with British canals they are designed for "Narrow Boats" so called for obvious reasons. Although narrow they are also long and all early boats were pulled by horses on a tow path. Only much later did boats start to be propelled independently without the need for horses. However even today all canal restorations or new sections all have to accommodate a horse tow path.

This aqueduct as well as being the longest in England has a unique feature in having a valve and hose underneath where it crosses the railway. This was added after the canal was acquired by the railway in 1863 and was used to fill the water tanks of the steam engines. Legend has it a train was once delayed due to a fish blocking the intake pipe.

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