The Aylesbury canal basin opened for business in 1815, at the end of a 6¼ mile arm from the main line at Marsworth of the Grand Junction Canal (now part of the Grand Union Canal). The Aylesbury Arm was intended to be part of a through route to the Thames at Abingdon, but the canal beyond Aylesbury was never built. The basin soon became busy with narrow boats bringing in cargoes of coal and timber, and shipping out foodstuffs and agricultural products. Trade was affected by the opening of the railways to Aylesbury, and later by road competition, the last cargo, of coal, being delivered in 1964.
Pleasure boating on the Aylesbury Arm was greatly increased by the establishment of a hire boat business, Aylesbury Boat Company, in the basin in the early 1960s. Aylesbury Canal Society, a team of canal enthusiasts, worked hard to keep it open and encourage recreational use of the canal, with regular boat rallies and events. In 2013 the Society relocated to a new site at Circus Fields on the edge of the town.
The canal basin is starting a new chapter in its history in revitalised surroundings and we hope that Waterside Festival will continue to be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future of this beautiful space in Aylesbury town centre.
Find out more about The Aylesbury Arm.