Branches Melksham Calne & Chippenham News
Canal Trust Celebrates "Exceptional Year"
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 00:00

HARDWORKING volunteers have been praised for an "exceptional" year of campaigning for the restoration of a former waterway.

The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is one of the largest of the entire charity, with more than 300 members out of a total membership of more than 2,000.
They hope to emulate the success of the nearby Kennet & Avon Canal which has generated millions of pounds for the local economy through increased tourism and employment.
In the last year alone they volunteered more than 5,000 hours of labour to local restoration efforts.

Speaking at the branch's recent AGM, branch chairman Rob Jones said: "This has been an exceptional year with progress on so many different fronts, including membership levels, work parties and media exposure.
"In particular, landowners who were once hostile to our scheme now offer their help and show much greater interest in our aims and objectives. Thanks to their support, work will soon start on several new pieces of land.
"We are steadily moving closer to our ultimate goal of a fully restored waterway."

Highlights of 2008 included popular boat rides along the river at Melksham's Party in the Park and Chippenham Folk Festival, as well as record numbers taking part in the annual sponsored walk along the former line of the canal between Chippenham and Lacock.
Around 80 work parties have been held, mainly around Pewsham, where volunteers have been helping to clear rubbish and restore towpaths, culverts and even a bridge. Parties sometimes included almost 20 people.
In total, more than 5,000 hours of labour was provided free of charge.

Rob added: "This has been one of our busiest years on so many levels and is a reflection of the growing popularity of the charity.
"We expect to be even busier in the years to come and so we'd be delighted to welcome new members and volunteers.
"Aside from the physical labour involved in the work parties, we also need people to help with fundraising, administration and other aspects of the campaign.
"Working together, we can quicken the pace of restoration and create a valuable new asset for the local community."

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust hopes to restore the waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, connecting Chippenham, Calne, Wootton Bassett and Swindon.