Newbury Wharf

Newbury Wharf

The tea shop by the canal, The Stone Building, Newbury Wharf, RG14 5AS.

The Kennet & Avon Canal was built over 200 years ago to link the River Kennet and the River Avon, and to provide a faster trade route between Bristol and London. Newbury Wharf, on the River Kennet, was an important place on this route – a busy place full of warehouses, workshops, offices, stables, store yards and docks. Boats would have been loading and unloading cargoes such as timber, grain, coal and salt.

By the 1850s the railway had taken most of the trade away from the canal. Gradually the buildings disappeared and much of the wharf is now under a car park! However, there is plenty of evidence of the importance of the canal and river to the development of the town, if you know where to look!

Our activities help children learn about how the River Kennet was used and modified for transporting goods. All Canal & River Trust activities are free (boat trips are chargeable).

We usually divide the children into groups and circulate round the following workshops. All workshops last approximately 45 minutes.


KS1 & KS2 All Aboard!

A boat trip on the River Kennet is the perfect way to see how Newbury has changed over the last 500 years. During the trip children will identify some of the buildings along the riverfront from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. Newbury is a great location for local geography, STEM and river studies as well as providing pupils with the opportunity to visit a lock and see how it operates.

Boats are run by the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and can be arranged as part of your visit. There is a charge for boat trips. Our Explorers team uses maps and photographs to encourage children to look more closely at the waterway environment.

KS1 & KS2 Guided Walk - is it a canal or a river?

A walk along the towpath will reveal some of Newbury’s hidden history. Children will look at maps and old photographs to find out how Newbury Wharf has changed in the last 200 years. They will compare the canal and the river and identify river features.

KS1 & KS2 Local History: Interactive Building the Kennet & Avon Canal activity

This workshop looks at how and why the canal was built over 200 years ago and the main cargoes that were carried by boat. Find out about some of the problems our engineers face today when looking after the canal. Additional STEM activities include lock design, building bridges or floating boats.

KS2 STEM Canal Cranes

This activity investigates gears. In our interactive session, children build their own cranes and test them to see which gears work best.

KS2 STEM Canal & River Maintenance Activity

Children investigate water quality and look at some of the challenges our engineers face when maintaining the canals. Studies can be linked to STEM topics to discover how canals were built and carry out a simple experiment.

Learning Resources

Use the following resources to support learning on your trip and back in the classroom:

All About Canals

Life on the English Waterways

All About Rivers

Canal & River Habitats Learning Bundle

How a lock works film


A normal visit lasts from about 10am – 2pm. We can accommodate one or two classes of children per day although there are limited toilet facilities (in the café, on the boat or the public toilets in the car park). 

The boat is operated by the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. There is a maximum of 29 passengers on the boat at a time but we can run up to three boat trips a day. Risk assessments sent on request.

Parking for coaches available in the council car park at The Wharf (charge applies).


Workshops Free!

Boat Trip costs available on request.