News article created on 3 July 2019

Repair works underway on the "beating hearts" of the Kennet & Avon

Restrictions to navigation over the summit of the Kennet & Avon Canal and at Caen Hill Flight have been put in place as we start work to repair a faulty pump.

Caen Hill 50th Rennaisance Caen Hill 50th Rennaisance

The western Kennet & Avon is replenished by an automated pumping system which transfers water from the Bristol Avon to the summit pound. When the pumps are out of action, it puts an additional strain on the water resources on the stretch, which we are already managing carefully due to the recent dry weather.   

The faulty pump has been removed for urgent repairs. The second pump cannot transfer enough water on its own to meet canal demands above the Caen Hill Flight and is being inspected on site.

The restricted opening hours, between the bottom of Caen Hill Flight and the bottom of Crofton Flight, are intended to enable boaters to pass through the Flight while conserving water to help keep the canal open for as long as possible. Regularly updated details of the restrictions are available.

We are asking boaters to help save water, and limit future restrictions, by not drawing water through any lock outside of the working hours and sharing locks where possible. Boaters can also help by minimising their use of water as much as possible at all times by, for example closing the paddles after use and not running the water outside of opening hours.

Rob Eaton, Canal & River Trust’s regional operations manager for Wales & South West, explains: “The pumps at Caen Hill are the beating hearts of the flight - continually moving water back up to the summit to keep the canal topped up.   We are doing everything we can to resolve the situation and get the pumps back to full health. The work could take up to a month and, depending on the recovery of natural water resources, some restrictions may be needed throughout the summer.

“As the situation continues to change we’ll be frequently reviewing the availability of water, and the work’s progress, and adjusting the restrictions. We urge people to register for our email stoppage notices which give regularly updated information. Thank you for your patience and support to help conserve our limited water supplies.”

If anyone has any concerns about the water levels or questions, during this period they should contact the Trust by emailing enquiries.walessouthwest@canalrivertrust.org.uk or calling them on 0303 0404040.