Building Britain's Canals

Kennet and Avon

Series 1 - Episode 3 Kennet and Avon



It’s always good when programmes like this bring on craftsmen and their jargon. Best example tonight is the name of the enormous hand saw used to cut up Bath stone for aqueducts: it’s called, for some reason, a frig bob.

Presenter Dan Jones gets his hands on a frog bob in between telling the excellent story of the Kennet and Avon canal. It’s the same as the story for every other canal: Georgian engineering genius, big overspend, eventual triumph. But the twist here is the coda about how in the late 20th century volunteers rescued the canal – surely one of the prettiest there is – from dereliction.


Writer and historian Dan Jones examines the creation of the picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal, which was born from a murky pool of dirty deals and demanding landowners. It came into being thanks to the genius of young engineer John Rennie, whose inspiration and innovations created a waterway that linked Bristol to London. Dan discovers how Rennie plotted the canal's route using the most basic of surveying instruments and marvels at the engineering innovations that made it all possible, such as the water-powered pumping station at Claverton.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dan Jones
Director Steve Bonser
Executive Producer Jeff Anderson
Producer Steve Bonser
Series Producer Graham Cooper
Documentary Science