Branches West Vale Reports
Shrivenham, Watchfield, and Bourton Parish News. December 2015


Well the new path in the Canalside Park is finally finished, well not quite!

The Branch was pleased to get the news that we were to host four visits during September and October from visiting volunteers from the Nationwide Building Society, unfortunately only three took place as it rained for the third one, well a deluge might best describe it – you may remember it in mid October, and we had to cancel. Fortunately all the volunteers on the other days worked like Trojans and got lots done; the first two moved thirty tonnes of stone! Wheel-barrowed to the path and leveled, then they even had the time and energy for a bit of scrub clearance, then on the fourth visit further scrub clearance, tidying up and four bonfires. Excellent and well done! Please see our News section on the web site for more details and photos.

Brilliant - well done Nationwide!

The ‘not quite bit’? - Well our compactor (Whacker plate) failed part way through, so the top surface of the path is not as smooth and level as we would like – it is safe and usable, please go and try it, but for wheelchairs etc it is a bit rough. We intend to finish it as soon as we can get a compactor. The cost of repairs to ours is several hundred pounds and even to hire one is currently beyond our means as we are just about as stony broke as the path! Anyone out there got one we can have or borrow? The local branch is always short of funds and volunteers! Unlike the Trust itself which goes from strength to strength!

With the appointment of Roderick Bluh as chairman back in May and Sir William Mc Alpine Bt FRSE as President in June, and with heaps happening in Swindon and throughout Wiltshire much progress is being made. So much so that at the recent Trust AGM in October it was agreed to completely re-organise the fundamental management structures in place to enable it to deliver the canal in a more effective and efficient manner. One of the first things done has been to set up a Board of trustees, an Executive and to employ a CEO. Full details and FAQs can be found on the web-site Exciting times!

The Branch intend to return to Steppingstone Bridge with our weekend work parties, firstly to re-install the recently refurbished valves of our old and trusty three inch pump ‘Red’ so that we can pump out the canal beneath the bridge to expose the collapsed NW wing wall ready for it to be rebuilt, and then to start cutting the new coping stones for the western parapet wall to manageable lengths! But as I sit here listening to ‘Hurricane Abigail’ thrashing at my window and with the remnants of ‘Hurricane Kate’ close behind I wonder just how soon it will be. Any volunteers out there, especially if you like getting wet!

Our mid-week work parties will be carrying out maintenance throughout the winter months, hedge trimming/gapping up/tree planting, scrub clearance, towpath recovery, fencing and gate repairs, general tiding up etc (fund raising?) and if you would like to help just give me a call, any help of any kind would be most appreciated.

Alan Norris. West Vale Branch - 01793 783024