The Grand Union Canal arrived in north Buckinghamshire 200 years ago and, back then, represented enormous progress in long distance transport. However, as years passed, the use of the canal changed from mostly commercial to mainly leisure purposes. Road transportation replaced that offered by the canal. As the Milton Keynes grid road system was being built and extended, the existing canal network had to be taken into account.

How do you get a canal across a road? You could build a bridge over the canal for the road traffic, and indeed nine major road bridges were built in Milton Keynes to do just that. However, if the canal is located higher up than the road you need an aqueduct to carry the waterway over the road below.

The Eight Arches

Before the Grafton Street road was built, the canal flowed along the top of an embankment.

Here you can see the Eight arches, where the canal overflow used to wash down. This structure was demolished when the new aqueduct was built.
Graham Crisp recalls playing there as a child in the 1960s.
"We used to wait for boats to come along and wash the water down, because it was quite a mini Niagara Falls when a big boat came along. It used to wash the water down and we used to spend quite a lot of time there as children."
The Construction of the Aqueduct

To allow the construction of a section of Grafton Street, a new aqueduct was required to replace the existing embankment carrying the Grand Union Canal over Loughton Brook. In 1991, the Grafton Street Aqueduct was the first to be built on the Grand Union Canal for over 50 years. It carried a footpath on either side and opened to boat traffic in March1991, though a separate bridge for the Railway Walk redway and bridle path was not completed until later.

Did you know?
1,700 tons of concrete and 121 miles of steel cable were used in the aqueduct's construction.

It took a year to build.

The structure is 125 metres long.

The aqueduct cost £4,500,000

The Canal Today

The area alongside the Grand Union Canal continues to change. Here you can see the most recent housing development (built during the 1990s), viewed from the route many children take to get to New Bradwell School.

To find out more about the Grand Union Canal click here. Remember to use your browser's back button to return to this page.
Sylvia Mead remembers how that spot used to be.
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