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, storeyards 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!

A perfect visit for your local history and geography studies!


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 river front from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. The highlight of the trip is going through Newbury Town Lock! 

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

A walk along the towpath will unveil some of Newbury’s now hidden history. Children will look at old 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, look at the water quality and identify some of the wildlife.

KS1 KS2 Living on a Boat – Tom’s Story

Tom Hams and his family lived and worked on a boat nearly 100 years ago. Children will re-enact short scenes from the life of Tom and his family. What was it like to live on a boat? What cargoes did Tom carry? What was it like being a child of a boat family?

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 Topic Pack

Find out more about Newbury Wharf.


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).


£50 per boat trip.