Branches West Vale Restoration
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.

Park plan

The Branch was not daunted; a plan was made to dredge out the canal, using the spoil for landscaping a public park that would include walkways, if possible a slipway and, because the access road was narrow, car-parking. Much detailed design work was carried out with some good support from local Cranfield University personnel in their spare time. Plans were submitted to the Vale of White Horse District Council and approved in 1997.

Work on car park

Work on car park

 

The VWHDC were very supportive and recognising the benefit to Shrivenham such a park would bring, donated both funding and labour to carry out several of the major tasks. These included dredging the canal section, profiling the park and laying the car park and access road.
All this work was completed by February 1998.

 

Access road to car parkDigging out the canalCanal channel completed

Canal channel completed

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Branch raised funds to have the access road and car park edged with posts to prevent unauthorised access to the grassed areas. Our Working Party Organiser (WPO) manufactured and installed a steel gate in the line of posts at the car park to allow us access.

The Branch then applied to the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) for, and was awarded, a grant to build a slipway at the corner of the car-park. This would have two functions, one obviously, as a slipway for boats in the future, the other as a drain for surface water into the canal from the car park. The IWA provided the structural design for the slipway and asked that it be built in memory of Ron Martin, a hard working member of the IWA who had recently died. They asked that a plaque be incorporated into the design and that we name the slip "The Ron Martin Memorial Slipway".

Slipway constructionSlipway constructionSlipway construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying the baseSlipway construction

 

During May 1998, the slip was dug out and made ready by local Branch members. 

 

 

 

Assisted by members of Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG), foundations were laid and concrete poured. In an effort to minimise cost and maximise use of hired plant, the main paths were constructed within the same weekend which was a huge but satisfying effort. Members of KESCRG laid most of the towpath (approximately 60m) whilst laying the concrete at the slipway.

Slipway finishedSlipway-brickworkTowpath being laid & slipway brickwork

 

The side walls followed in September, constructed by our Branch with good support from the Branches at Wootton Bassett and Foxham & Lyneham. This was the first major bricklaying job carried out by the Branch, with everyone getting involved.The park pathways were laid with membrane covered by scalpings using 100% branch effort, with the remaining 40m of towpath completed during the same weekend.

 

 

Also in 1998, the raised areas of the park were planted with over 1300 native shrubs and some small trees, thanks to a kind donation from the Great Western Community Forest project. It is worth noting that the Branch was successful in retaining 60% of these as fully established plants after 4 years.

Planting on the bund Planting complete Entrance barrier

Information board in 2009

 

A wooden notice-board was erected in 1999 displaying details of how the park came into being and all those who helped. Unfortunately, the local vandals took issue with the notices and removed them, breaking the perspex cover; although the board itself remained virtually unscathed. The board is still there and now displays a map of the complete W&B Canal route.

Compacting the path surface

 

Associated with the Canalside Park Project was the construction, in 2000, of a new path going north from the park beside Coppithorne Meadow (land associated with the adjacent cemetery but currently a wildlife reserve), to join an existing public footpath.

 

 

 

Additionally, a lift bridge has been designed and approval gained from Oxfordshire Highways (Bridges) Dept. This would enable the restored section of canal to the west of Stainswick Lane to be joined to the park section. However, this will have to wait until funding in excess of £100,000 is available.

canalpark16

 

The park is very well used by villagers for relaxing in or just for walking the dog.

The park is maintained by the Branch volunteers, with Shrivenham Parish Council kindly arranging for regular mowing of the main grass areas. 

 

Towards the end of winter and when there has been heavy rain, the ponds on the park and canal retain water and give an idea of what we can look forward to when restoration of the canal is more advanced. cpark12-3  cpark12-4 
     tmill12-3

 

 

 

 During the past few years, we have been fortunate to have had a number of visiting volunteer groups from Swindon-based companies. These volunteers have put in a lot of hard work clearing the ditches around the park, cutting the scrub and brambles that had taken hold in the canal, and also levelling the towpath and trimming back the hedges.
 cpark12-5  In celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee local children planted trees that had been donated by The Woodland Trust.

  

Recent Works

During 2014 & 2015, visitors to the park will not have failed to notice several large heaps of stone. These were used to surface an extension to the park paths with a new route around the eastern end of the park that previously was inaccessible. This work was made possible with assistance from the Vale of White Horse District Council's New Homes Bonus Community Fund and a grant from the WBCT. 
Around 50 tons of stone was laid by our own volunteer team with assisatnce from two groups of volunteers from the Nationwide Building Society.

 

New path route New path in progress New path in progress
New path in progress New path works New path

2015 09 09 NW1  2015 09 09 NW3   27 10 2015 NW03
 

Walks

The Branch has prepared a leaflet that describes three walks starting and ending at the park, it can be downloaded here-

PDF File Shrivenham Walk Leaflet

 

Additionally, there is a permissive footpath eastwards along the canal towpath for approximately 500m. From the car park, go around the end of the dredged section, by the road (there is no access to the footpath from the eastern end of the park). For much of the distance, the canal is in its original undredged state but is clearly visable. At one point Beckett House can be seen to the north through the trees; originally the seat of Viscount Barrington, it is now used by the Defence Academy. The footpath comes to an abrupt end at Tuckmill Brook as the aqueduct that carried the canal over the brook was demolished many years ago (rebuilding this aqueduct is one of our planned projects). There are no rights of way across the surrounding land, so return is back along the towpath.

 

The park also is included in the Shrivenham Circular Walk which is sign-posted throughout the village,

www.shrivenham.org/community/circular_walk.html

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