Branches Swindon Stories & Memories
Giant Trees from little Acorns grow

As a child I always remember Granddad pointing to the big trees and saying "from little acorns youngun from little acorns" I never really understood what he meant. Well I have been thinking this over just lately and putting it into a Canal Trust context and I now think I know what he meant, It had nothing to do with trees.

All along the line of the canal we have little idea's that have germinated and matured into something really wonderful. Latton Basin, and Jubilee Junction to name but two.

Each and every branch will have its own little acorns so I thought I would tell you about four of our little acorns here in Swindon.

Acorn 1

About 18 months ago Ken announces at a branch meeting that with all the interest in the Swindon through route we should have our own information centre in the middle of Swindon (a shop in the centre of town). We all agree, great idea, (does he know what the cost of rents and rates are in Swindon for a shop). Has he lost it we are all thinking without saying so or has he got Paul Getty as a new member.

Its amazing what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and we open in January at virtually no cost to the trust.

Well we have now had our shop for over 9 months, A visit from the Mayor, Over one hundred related items in the local press, that averages out at three a week, Thousands of leaflets handed out, Dozens of new members signed up, Hundreds of pounds worth of merchandise sold, And by now there cannot be anybody in Swindon that does not have an opinion on the canal That is one hell of a giant Information tree.

Acorn 2

We get a call out of the blue from the B.B.C, We know that Bill Oddie did a piece on your canal for the water voles, Alan Titchmarch is doing a new programme called the Nature of Britain would you like to be involved, (try and stop us). I do a piece with our new weed cutter and it gets 3 minutes air time on the programme, two day's later I get an email from the B.B.C asking if we would like to register on their Breathing Places site, Ken does the online paper work and we are in.June this year and Swindon gets awarded £10,000 from the Breathing Places to restore part of the canal and tow path at Moredon. That's one hell of a giant conservation and wildlife tree.

Acorn 3

Keith has been doing walks through the centre of Swindon for 20 odd years and then I take over.

Why do we not make a D.V.D of this walk I say so that those that cannot make the walk can enjoy it as well. I get Gary to do the pictures of the route, Jan supplies the old history pictures, I pick Keith's brain for those last few gems of wisdom, I do the script, Keith does the prologue, I do the voice over and then Richard puts it all together in piece of wizardry that only modern day computers can.We launch at the January open meeting with me saying that 20 copies will be made available for anyone that would like a copy.18 months later and Richard has reproduced 420 copies and the branch funds have swelled by over £2,000, more than 100 of those buying the D.V.D pay above the £7 asking price, One member in Gloucester pay's £25 and another in Penzance £30, we have now sold them far and wide, America, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, Egypt, and Australia, Now that's one hell of a History tree.

Acorn 4

Some years ago I had an idea about producing a glossy magazine for the canal trust so I go and talk to Diane the lady that runs these things at the Advertiser who is a friend of mine. She helps me with all the technical points and I take it to the Publicity team. Here it comes to a full stop, the logistics are just to much for us to take on at the time.

In March this year Mandy another friend of mine from the Advertiser gives me a ring, Roy had a word with Diane, how would you like us to do all the work for you, getting in the Ads, arranging the art work, Printing, and distribution, We pay for everything, what you get is over five thousand copies to give away as well. All you have to do is supply the editorial. We keep the Advertising revenue, You get the magazine and the publicity for free.

This is the best win-win situation I have ever heard of. Richard agrees to take on the daunting task of the editorial side of this venture and with just a couple of blips and one or two frantic emails to gee up people that are contributing to it we get there on time.Result we now have the best full colour 16 page magazine we have ever produced and its for free Now that really is a gigantic Publicity tree.

So you see my Granddad was right after all from little acorns grow a new canal.

Roy Cartwright