Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal

Nominated by: Catherine Turnbull-Ross

This nomination looks back to a time when transport links were rapidly improving in this country – a time known for its ‘canal mania’.  When the canal came to Aylesbury it created a new route for goods to come in and out of the town, and as a result coal prices in Aylesbury halved.

Now it acts as a haven of peace and nature in the heart of the town, as well as being a safe, traffic-free route to different areas of the town and out into the surrounding countryside. Many different water birds (mallards, mute swans, grey herons, kingfishers, moorhens) can be seen along its banks, as well as the many beautiful plants, wildflowers and trees that line the banks.

Since 2018 the basin in the town has seen the vibrant Waterside Festival, which celebrates the history of the canal as well as music, drama, nature giving people a taste of fishing, paddle boarding and canoeing as well.

The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal was completed in 1815.  It runs for 6.25 miles and has 16 locks.  The arm branches off from the Grand Union Canal at Marsworth, near the Tring reservoirs, less than a mile from the start of the Wendover Arm, and heads west to Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire.

The Grand Union Canal itself links London to Birmingham, passing through rolling countryside, industrial towns and peaceful villages.  It is our longest canal, the ‘trunk route’ of the system.  The word ‘Union’ offers a clue to the heritage of this canal.  The Grand Union Canal was never constructed as an entity, but is the result of amalgamations between 1894 and 1929 of several independent waterways — the oldest being the navigations around the River Soar in Leicestershire, the longest the Grand Junction Canal from Braunston to the River Thames.

The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal was nominated by Catherine Turnbull-Ross.