- River Avon, Warwickshire
river_name = River Avon
image_size = 300px
caption = The River Avon by the Royal Shakespeare
River Severn, Tewkesbury
England, United Kingdom
length = 154 km (96 mi)
watershed = The River Avon or Avon is a
riverin or adjoining the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershireand Gloucestershirein the Midlands of England. It is also known as the Upper Avon, Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon. The river has a total length of convert|96|mi|km|0. Avon is an anglicisationof the Welsh word for 'river' (spelled "afon" in Welsh)
The source of the Avon is near the village of
Nasebyin Northamptonshire. For the first few miles of its length between Welford and the Dow Bridge on Watling Street, it forms the border between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. On this section, it has been dammed to create Stanford Reservoir. It then flows in a generally west-southwesterly direction, not far north of the Cotswold Edgeand through the Vale of Evesham, passing through the towns and villages of Welford, Rugby, Wolston, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Welford-on-Avon, Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham and Pershore, before it joins the River Severnat Tewkesbury.
From Alveston weir, which is convert|2|mi|km|1 upstream of Stratford-upon-Avon, downstream to Tewkesbury and the River Severn, the river has been rendered navigable by the construction of locks and
weirs. The Stratford-upon-Avon Canallinks to the Avon through a lock in the park in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatrein Stratford-upon-Avon. Navigation on the River Avon is restricted to boats with a maximum length of 72 ft (21.94 m), beam of 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m), height of 10 ft (3.04 m) and draught of 4 ft (1.18 m).
Traffic is now exclusively leisure oriented. Overnight moorings are available at Stratford-upon-Avon,
Luddington, Welford-on-Avon, Barton, Bidford-on-Avon, Harvington, Offenham, Evesham, Craycombe, Wyre, Pershore, Defford, Comberton, Birlingham, Eckington, Strenshamand Tewkesbury. There are boatyards at Stratford-upon-Avon, Welford-on-Avon, Barton, Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham, and Tewkesbury.
The navigation works on the Avon were originally authorised by an
Order in Counciland Letters Patent of Charles I in 1635, and by 1641 it was reported that the river was navigable to within convert|4|mi|km|0 of Warwick. It is often suggested that William Sandys (the 1635 grantee) constructed only flash locks (with a single barrier), and that Andrew Yarranton, who restored the river in the 1660s provided pound locks (with two pairs of mitred gates), but this is wrong. The evidence actually points to the reverse, namely that Yarranton put in about three navigation weirs (a type of flash lock) to overcome certain difficulties that remained; these were never adjacent to mills.
The navigation rights were confirmed by the Stour and Salwarpe Navigation Act in 1662. Due to the way in which it was restored, the Navigation became divided into two separately administered sections: the Upper Avon Navigation between Stratford and Evesham, and the Lower Avon Navigation between Evesham and the River Severn. The Upper Avon Navigation had fallen into disuse by 1874. The Lower Avon Navigation never quite fell into total disuse, but by the end of the Second World War only one barge was plying the stretch between Tewksbury and Pershore.
The "Lower Avon Navigation Trust Ltd" ("LANT") was constituted as a charity in 1950, and by 1962 the 8 locks from Tewkesbury to Evesham were restored to working order, re-opening the Lower Avon. The Upper Avon was in a much worse condition than the Lower Avon, but the "Upper Avon Navigation Trust Ltd" ("UANT") was constituted in 1965 to rebuild the navigation. Despite this work requiring the building of new locks and weirs, and most of the work being undertaken by volunteers, the Upper Avon was reopened in 1974.
There have recently been proposals to extend the navigation upstream from Alveston to a link with the
Grand Union Canalat either Warwick or Leamington Spa. This would open up a stretch of river that has never previously been navigable, and is a controversial issue locally.
*C. Hadfield & J. Norris, Waterways to Stratford (2nd edn, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1968), 15-70
*J. Davies, Shakespeare’s Avon: the history of a navigation (Oakwood Press, Headington Oxon 1996)
*P. King, 'The river Teme and other Midlands navigations' "Journal of Railway and Canal Historical Society" 35(5) (July 2006), 349-50.
*Other rivers named Avon
Rivers of the United Kingdom
* [http://www.oldstratforduponavon.com/riverchurch.html A few views of Shakespeare's Avon in old Postcards]
* [http://www.shakespearesavon.co.uk/ Shakespeare's Avon, the website of "LANT" and "UANT"]
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