Dawdling at Dundas

Dundas Aqueduct, Kennet & Avon Canal, Somerset

You have to be a special person to have an aqueduct named after you.

Charles Dundas, 1st Baron Amesbury (1751-1832) was in fact the chairman of the Kennet & Avon Canal company:  someone thought it would put a smile on his face to give his family name to John Rennie’s aqueduct across the River Avon at Monckton Combe.

Its parapet carries a plaque commemorating Charles Dundas on one side and, on the other, John Thomas, the company’s chief engineer, “by whose skill, perseverance and integrity, the Kennet and Avon canal was brought to a prosperous completion”.

The Dundas Aqueduct is slightly larger than the Avoncliff Aqueduct.  The main span is 65 feet (Avoncliff 60 feet) and the whole aqueduct 150 yards long (Avoncliff 110 yards).

Whereas the Avoncliff Aqueduct has a light, simplified Corinthian entablature, the Dundas Aqueduct has full-dress twin Roman Doric pilasters and an exaggerated cornice that may be a not entirely successful attempt to give weather-protection to the masonry beneath.

Only at the Lune Aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lune_Aqueduct], with its five arches, Doric entablature and buttresses, did Rennie exceed his aqueducts on the Kennet & Avon.

As a tourist attraction, and an excuse for gongoozling [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gongoozler], the Dundas is a prime spot.

You can even buy cheese and an ice-cream from the floating dairy that is currently moored alongside the aqueduct:  http://www.dawdlingdairy.co.uk/index.html.

You don’t get that at any old aqueduct.

The 72-page, A4 handbook for the 2012 Waterways and Railways between Thames and Severn tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing.  To view sample pages click here.  Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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