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Latest News from Royal Wootton Bassett

Area Board grants funding for new seat

Wiltshire Council Area Board praised the  work of  Wilts & Berks Volunteers in Royal Wootton Bassett in restoring and maintaining the canal and has granted funding for a new canal side seat 

See Article on Our Community Matters

Towpath embankment

The at Royal Wootton Bassett  work party team  are  in the final stages of dredging  and re-profiling  the towpath embankment below Chaddington Lock

Images courtesy Linda Hawkins


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Sea Cadets at Templars Firs

SeaCadets1-1000On a sunny Sunday afternoon in August the Royal Wootton Bassett Sea Cadets came to the Canal at Templars Firs for a ceremonial launch of their new boat. They had had a grant towards it from the Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Area Board. It is a Yole slide-seat rowing boat, very stable for novices, and can flexibly seat one or two scullers. Cllr Alison Bucknell, representing Wiltshire Council took a solo trip, watched over by the Mayor, and then a senior cadet with coaching qualification took two Trust members for turns.  

Trust volunteers who had been working hard to clear weed from the canal were pleased to see people enjoying it. The canal is not wide enough to use the boat there regularly, but the Sea Cadets would like to get approval to use it for kayaking in the future.



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Bassett supporters get the bigger picture

More than fifty people, including the Mayor of Wootton Bassett, came together in Wootton Bassett for a talk by John Farrow about the Wilts & Berks Canal in and around Swindon.

Many already know the canal in Wootton Bassett and John extended their view onwards through Swindon towards Shrivenham and Cricklade. John started by giving an overview of the routes through Swindon. The old route of the canal from the Shrivenham Road into Swindon was illustrated by showing our DVD with historic and current photos. John is a volunteer in our Wootton Bassett work party so he showed photos of recent work at Butterfly World between Wootton Bassett and Swindon.JFarrowTalk

Old and new supporters were fascinated by views of the new canalside houses at Wichelstowe and the new lock, and then new envisaged routes through the town centre and east round Coate Water.

There was a lively question and answer session including what can volunteers do apart from digging! Donations and a raffle added to our branch funds and several people took away membership application forms."

Photo caption "In the coffee break the Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett, Paul Heaphy, (right) and John Farrow, discussed future plans for canal restoration."

Tackling the weeds in the waterway at Wootton Bassett



September 2011 saw the Wootton Bassett work party starting an attack on the weed growth in the canal at Templars Firs. The weed cutting boat was brought from Swindon and John and Arthur set out to forge a path through the fringed water lilies. The rest of the team used rakes on ropes to drag the vegetation onto the bank.BobMikeVegetation-1000


The next stretch is more of a challenge. There is dense grass-like weed. It is floating, but the sheer mass of vegetation calls for a new way of working concentrating more on lifting than cutting.



The first 500 or so metres now looks cared for and like a proper canal.


Unfortunately after two Wednesdays, work had to stop. A film on the water and a smell continued, and Wessex Water felt it might be a health risk to work on the weed. We wait for it to clear before carrying on.

Martin talks canals in Wootton Bassett

MartinBucklandtalkWB-400On Monday 3rd October, about 40 people enjoyed a wide ranging and enthusiastic talk given by Martin Buckland and organised by the Wootton Bassett branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

Martin described the earliest history of canals, different purposes, the engineering design and methods of construction. He showed photos of his visits to famous waterway landmarks like the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, and the Falkirk Wheel, and then showed the amazing horse heads proposed as part of the first lock on the east end of the Forth-Clyde canal near Falkirk.

Lastly he came nearer home and described some recent projects on the Wilts & Berks and especially the making of "Jubilee Junction", a short section of canal to mark where the Wilts & Berks will join the River Thames near Abingdon.

Chair of the Branch, Jenny Stratton, said 'We were especially pleased that people had come along who hadn't been directly involved with the Trust before but had real interest in canals. We hope they will return for our next talk about the Wantage part of our canal, on Monday December 5th'

Bincknoll Lane to Butterfly World at Wootton Bassett

BeforeClearanceMarch2010_300Our Wednesday work party, led by John Bower, has been busy during February and March, working against (bird-nesting) time to clear away scrub and brambles covering most of the 300 metres of derelict canal behind Butterfly World. In places 40 feet wide and 8 feet high, it took a lot of cutting, raking and burning.WorkPartyMarch2011_200
This has allowed completion of an ecological survey of the whole length from Butterfly World, through the Biffa landfill site and on to Bincknoll Lane. The owner is keen to get the Butterfly World length dredged. Planning permission has been applied for and we are looking for grant funding.


meerkat_200Left There's more than just butterflies at Butterfly World - they've got otters and meerkats as well, and here is one of the local residents watching what's going on.CouncillorsVisitMarch2011_300




Right John showing Wiltshire Councillors Bill Roberts and Peter Colmer what has been achieved.





Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Area Board gives us a grant

We are pleased that at their meeting on 23rd March the Board awarded us a grant of £1736 to buy limestone scalpings. These will be used to improve the standard of the towpath at Chaddington and Templars Firs.