Nov 1913 Letter to the Editor
From the North Wilts Herald November 17 1913
Sir,- I see Mr. Kimber in his speech at the special meeting of the Swindon Chamber of Commerce is reported to have stated that the work on the construction of the canal commenced in 1794, but it was not completed until 1810-and that the capital expended upon it seemed from the records to have exceeded a million pounds. May I ask what records, because there seems a little variation between this sum and what John Britton says in his description of the county of Wilts.
These are his words: "the Wilts and Berks Canal strikes off from the Kennet and Avon canal at Semington, and running in a direction almost due north, passes by Melksham towards Chippenham (with which town, as well as with that of Calne, it is connected by small collateral branches), from whence it proceeds to Foxham.
Soon after it turns directly to the east, flowing by Wooton Basset, Chaddington and Swindon, to within a mile of Highworth, near which town it leaves this county, and passes into Berkshire, on its way to join the Thames at a short distance below Abington.
The first act for the formation of this canal was passed in 1795; and by it the company were empowered to rise £111,000 in shares of £100 each; and in case of the insufficiency of that sum to complete their plan, £150,000 more, by subscription or mortgage. Accordingly in conformity with these powers, the two sums were successively obtained; but both together fell far short of the expenditure actually found necessary for the completion of the undertaking.
A second application was therefore made to Parliament for leave to increase their stock by an additional sum of £200,000, which was granted; and the canal has at length been opened for navigation." If this is correct the canal really cost £461,000 and not over £1,000,000 as stated.
Yours truly PICKWICK.