Branches Melksham Calne & Chippenham News
Wiltshire Lost Waterways Brought Back to Life
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 06:49
Walkers before the start of Walk a Boat 2011 Pete Williams talking to walkers before the start of Walk A Boat 2011 One of the walkers, with his boat, before the start of Walk A Boat 2011. This boat  did reach Pewsham and was later seen being paddled towards Triangle Wood

Hardworking volunteers have celebrated a major milestone in their campaign to restore a former waterway through the Wiltshire countryside.

A view of Middle Lock looking North with walkers passing

A view of Bottom Lock and Lower Pond looking North

 

 

Following tens of thousands of hours of free labour, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has officially reopened the two-mile stretch from Pewsham to Reybridge.

 

 

 

A view looking South, of walkers passing a group of volunteers excavating the wall  between Bottom Lock and the Horseshoe Spill WeirOver the last few years the charity has been clearing rubbish and undergrowth, dredging the canalbed, raising the towpath, and repairing spillweirs and even an entire bridge.

Duncan Hames MP cuts the ribbon assisted by Canal Trust Chairman John Laverick  and Rebecca Lemont-Jiggens from Community First

 

The impressive results were enjoyed by hundreds of people taking part in this year's annual sponsored walk, which included a formal ribbon-cutting at the start of the rewatered stretch.

Guests included John Laverick, chairman of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, together with campaign supporter Duncan Hames MP.

They then boarded a tripboat to become the first passengers to travel along the waterway since it was abandoned almost a century ago.Viewed L-R: Cllr. Mark Packard (Chippenham Area Board),Duncan Hames MP, Doug Harris (WBCT MCC Work Party Organiser), Rebecca Lemont-Jiggens (Community First) and John Laverick  (WBCT Chairman)boarded a tripboat to become the first passengers to travel along the waterway since it was abandoned almost a century ago.

 

(Above) Duncan Hames MP cuts the ribbon assisted by Canal Trust Chairman John Laverick and Rebecca Lemont-Jiggens from Community First

 


Mr Laverick said: "Only a few years ago there were still some people who said we were trying to achieve the impossible. They claimed it would place an intolerable burden on local taxpayers. But we managed to repair and restore this wonderful piece of our industrial heritage almost entirely through our own fundraising efforts, together with generous donations from local businesses and the kind support of local landowners".

"It used to be described as Wiltshire's lost waterway but we've successfully brought it back to life, thanks to a wide range of volunteers ranging from teachers and musicians to engineers and farmers. Over the years they have cleared undergrowth to reveal locks and a lock-keeper's cottage, a dry-dock, saw-pit, lime-kiln and the remains of a lift-bridge, as well as smaller items such as nails, pottery and even a boot-scraper".

"We still have a small number of earth dams in place to help locate leaks but these will eventually be removed, otherwise it probably looks very similar to how it appeared a century ago. This stretch is already hugely popular with walkers and cyclists but our aim is to extend it to Chippenham in the north and Melksham in the south, ultimately connecting Calne, Swindon and Wootton Bassett. It will be a major project requiring the support of national organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. Yet we only have to look at other restored canals to see the dramatic difference they have made to our local towns - increased tourism and employment, improved access to the countryside, and enhanced habitats for wildlife."

Cllr Mark Packard (Wiltshire Council Chippenham Area Board)operates the sluice on the reconstructed spillweir. -  Closed

Cllr Mark Packard (Wiltshire Council Chippenham Area Board)operates the sluice on the reconstructed spillweir. Open

 

Duncan Hames has taken part in the sponsored walk for several years, but this was his first time as a Member of Parliament. He said: "I've been delighted to follow the progress of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and how it has grown in popularity.

"I'm repeatedly amazed by everything that has been achieved and the incredible progress that has been made.
"The transformation is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the small army of volunteers who are breathing new life into this former waterway.
"I look forward to the restoration of many more miles in the years ahead."

 

(Above) Cllr Mark Packard (Wiltshire Council Chippenham Area Board) operates the sluice on the reconstructed spillweir. The spillweir will control the level of the canal and the excess water will normally flow over the top and into the adjacent stream .The mechanism can be operated when there is a need to lower the water or there is more water than the normal spillweir can cope with.

The tripboat Willow ready for passengers The newly restored Canal looking South from Squirrel’s Rest The newly restored Canal looking South in Triangle Wood with Willow and passengers
Chaloner Chute and Maureen enjoying a tranquil row through Triangle Wood in the 110-year old Skiff ‘Emily’ The newly restored Canal looking South in Triangle Wood The newly restored Canal looking South, with walkers on the embankment in The Meadow
Walkers approaching Double Bridge from the North Walkers approaching Double Bridge from the North Volunteers packing up after the boat trips, at the bung marking the Northern end of this section of the restored canal
CommunityFirstLogo

We would like to thank
Viridor Waste Management,
who gave us a grant of £28,000
through the Landfill Communities Fund
towards the dredging of this section.
This was distributed through
Community First in Devizes.

http://www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk

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Lost_Waterway_WW_July2011

 

Waterways World July 2011