LETTERS FROM THE PAST 2
Nevertheless it has left itís mark on the Vale landscape. Uffington Wharf, where coal and, according to Alfred Williams, school treats bound for White Horse Hill were once landed, still keeps its name and a group of houses close by is known as Longcot Locks, though the locks have been filled in.
On a bank near the railway I found a single abandoned milestone face downwards. After some digging out, and much levering with a long pole, - for it was very heavy, I raised it enough to clean and photograph the inscription. This reads: "Semington 36 miles".
As inland transport the old Wilts and Berks was relatively unimportant, with little industry to provide cargoes, but it must rank high for itís literary associations. In Tom Brown's Schooldays Tom fished in itís shallow waters and envied the canal folk in "the long barges, with the big black men lounging by the side of the horses"; Richard Jefferies made use of the Coate reservoir in Bevis, and Alfred Williams, the Hammerman Poet of South Marston, not only wrote about it in his still unsurpassed regional books, but also carted thousands of bricks from derelict locks for the house he built largely with his own hands.
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