Branches West Vale
West Vale Restoration Projects
Steppingstone Lane Bridge

The bridge was originally constructed in 1804/5 to carry the road from Shrivenham to Bourton. With the construction of Avenue Road, access to Bourton was improved and this route became less important and has been a simple track and bridleway for many years. In the late 1940's the bridge had become unsafe and was culverted and then collapsed onto the culvert to take the bridleway across the canal bed.

The project to rebuild this bridge is nearing completion; it has been rebuilt from the foundations up by volunteers, with a brick arch similar to the original.

Current Position

The new bridge was opened in July 2012 after Oxfordshire County Council agreed that the bridge was safe. Since then the temporary bridleway diversion has been closed, coping stones added to one parapet and one wing-wall rebuilt.

Work continues with the rebuilding of the remaining three wing-walls and adding coping stones to the other parapet.

SSB JLY13-2 

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Realignment of the Towpath by Shrivenham Arch Bridge (2013 - 2015)

Substation path-1

 

To the east of Station Road Arch Bridge, adjacent to the canal, is an electricity sub-station. When it was built, the ground level was raised such that the towpath alongside was narrowed and displaced into the canal channel. Additionally, there was a very steep and often muddy climb from this towpath up to the level of the road (the towpath did not pass under this bridge as here it changed from the south side of the canal to the north). For some time, the Branch had considered how it could improve this section of towpath and so enable the canal to be dredged to full width.

  

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Shrivenham Canalside Park & Ron Martin Memorial Slipway

Looking westwards to parkCreated in 1998 with help from project partners; the canal-side park at Shrivenham is well used by the local community.

One of the few lengths of Wilts & Berks Canal actually owned by the Trust can be found on the edge of Shrivenham just to the east of Stainswick Lane at OS grid reference SU243883. Approximately 4 acres of land became available in 1996 and was purchased by the local Branch on behalf of the Trust. At this time, the included 100 metre length of canal was totally infilled, having been used by the village for many years as a local tip before being covered over and abandoned to very rough pasture.

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West Vale Branch's First Project - Restoration of the Canal Section from Stainswick Lane to Station Road Shrivenham (1991-96)

sl2sr_01This length of canal, of approximately 650 metres, is the closest section to Shrivenham village, lying 750 metres south of the High Street. It was considered to be a good place to start for not only would it raise the profile of the fledgling Branch locally but would also provide a most useful footpath between these two roads. The channel was largely visible although much infilled with silt, undergrowth and giant, coppiced willow trees, many limbs of which had collapsed. The towpath was impassable as the adjacent hedge and brambles had encroached.

  sl2sr_02

Looking westwards from Stainswick Lane before dredging

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Restoration of the Canal Section from Shrivenham Arch Bridge to Bourton Wharf (1992-94)

sr2bw 01Having made a good start on our first major project, the dredging of the section between Stainswick Lane and Station Road, the Branch was keen to progress the adjacent canal section.


This length is approximately 1100 metres; from the Arch Bridge on Station Road to where the canal line is lost under Townsend Road (the road from the A420 into Shrivenham) near to the site of Bourton Wharf - the roads in this area being altered in the 1980s for the Shrivenham / Watchfield bypass.

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