- There was a young
man from Devizes
- Whose ears were
of different sizes
- One was so small
- It was no ear at
- But the other was
huge and won prizes.
One feels that Devizes should
be notable for more than a limerick suitable for re-writing to
any one-syllable body part that a young man can be expected to
have two of (ears, feet, arms, etc.). Fortunately it is - it
is also an idyllic English market town.
Devizes is located in central
Wiltshire on the Kennet and Avon Canal, seen here as it ambles
through the town's northern suburbs. The outskirts of the town
are green and pleasant, while the centre is handsomely laid out
with a spacious market place, narrow side streets, a covered
market selling not very much on a Saturday afternoon, several
hotels, a couple of churches and a castle. The castle is logically
sat on the rock that rises to the south-west of the town centre.
Beneath it is the rather tattered remnants of the town's railway.
The town has no bypass. This does not seem to cause much in the
way of traffic problems.
The main attraction is the
canal, one of several well-engineered trunk canals which were
constructed around the country at the beginning of the 19th century.
This one linked London with Bristol - shippers travelled up the
Thames from London to Reading where they diverged from the Old
Father and headed up the Kennet Valley, with the River Kennet
being extensively remodelled for partial use as a canal and new
cuts made to form up the rest. The summit at Crofton features
by a short tunnel, named Bruce after the landowner who insisted
on it, before the canal begins the long descent past Devizes,
Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon to join the Avon (a British word
meaning "river") at Bath. (It actually enters the Avon
Valley, such as it is in the plains of central Wiltshire, around
Trowbridge. However, the River River wasn't reckoned to be fully
navigable until Bath.)
Devizes marks the western end
of the "Long Pound" - a stretch of about 15 miles with
no locks at all, providing an almost dead level waterway along
the hillside past the small town of Pewsey and two (lesser-known)
White Horses. The eastern end is denoted by four rural locks
in relatively close succession lifting the canal up to Bruce
Tunnel. At Devizes the canal swings around the town centre, descends
through six fairly adjacent locks and then falls down the side
of Caen Hill - sixteen locks, one after the other, providing
a straight flight of a most impressive nature. Seven more locks
bring the canal down onto the plain, but there are still another
21 to be negotiated before the waterway finally joins the river.
June provides a good warm green
time of year for meandering beside a canal, although it would
be much more pleasant if someone hadn't converted the soft green
towpath which links Pewsey with Devizes into a hard grey one
for the leg between Devizes and Trowbridge.