Branches Melksham Calne & Chippenham News
Suge of support for canal restoration
Thursday, 01 January 2009 00:00

A SURGE of support has been offered to the restoration of a former waterway between Melksham and Chippenham.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has been delighted to see a huge increase in the amount of time offered by local volunteers.
Weekend work parties have been busy removing undergrowth and rubbish, maintaining the towpath, restoring culverts and wharfs, and even rebuilding a bridge.
In 2007 they contributed more than 3,000 hours of free labour. However, in 2008 this soared to almost 4,000 hours worth around £50,000 if paid contactors had been used.

Today, parts of the former canal near Lacock have been refilled with water and offer a glimpse of what could eventually be achieved.
The charity's aim is to restore a navigable waterway linking the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, providing a multi-million pound boost to the local economy through new jobs and tourism.

Doug Harris is one of the work party organisers for the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.
He said: "The number of work parties has remained roughly the same, but it's the number of people coming along to each event which has actually increased.
"This has included local volunteers from the Melksham squadron of the Air Training Corps, as well as members of national organisations such as the Waterways Recovery Group.
"We've been delighted to see people of all ages and backgrounds offering their time and skills in aid of such a worthy cause.
"It's particularly gratifying when so many cyclists and walkers stop to congratulate us on our work and wish us well for the future."

The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the charity has around 300 members.
Future events include the annual quiz night at the Rachel Fowler Centre in Melksham on Tuesday, February 24, and the annual sponsored walk from Chippenham to Lacock on Sunday, April 26.