History Newspaper Archives
Newspaper Archives 1910 - 1919
May 1911 What about the Canal

Mr. Wright said he had reason to believe that a move would be made to deal with the canal very shortly, and as the Coucil only met every three months, and as they would possibly have a communication before the next meeting, asking them to appoint representatives, could the Council relegate powers to the General Purposes Committee to deal with it ?.

Replying to the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee, Mr. Wright said that the canals he referred to were the Wilts and Berks Canal, and the North Wilts Canal.
Mr .Blake said that in the event of any communication of a serious nature being received by the Clerk, he would ask him to call a special meeting to deal with it.

The matter of the canals had been before the committee several years, but it had generally ended in reeds and rushes. Mr. Withy suggested that if the County Council were going to again consider the canal question, it ought to go before the special committee which dealt with the matter fully some years ago.

Mr. W right said the negotiations had not been advanced sufficiently to enable them to write to this meeting, but if anything was heard within the next week or ten days he was anxious to avoid having to wait until the next meeting of the Council- three months hence- before any action was taken.

It was a very serious matter indeed and something really would have to be done, certainly, as far as the borough of Swindon was concerned, to deal with that public nuisance. The Chairman expressed the hope that something would be done, and though he did not know how far the negotiations had gone, they would be sorry to hamper whatever action was contemplated. He would be sorry to say how many years that matter had gone on, and of course, if anything urgent arose and it was necessary to take immediate action, he would call a special meeting if necessary.

Evening North Wilts herald
May 17th 1911

May 1911 Swindon Town Council
It was reported that the secretary of the Wilts and Berks Canal Company had written giving the Corporation six months notice to give vacant possession of the site occupied by the public convenience near the Whale Bridge and asking for it to be removed.

Evening North Wilts Herald
May 3rd 1911
Oct 1913 Swindon's Derelict Canal
A letter was received from the Secretary of the Swindon Ratepayers Association stating that at the last meeting of the committee the question of the purchase by the Corporation of that portion of the Wilts and Berks Canal situate within the borough, and also Coate Reservoir was under consideration, when it was decided to ask the Canal Committee to receive a deputation from the association on the matter.

A letter was also received from Mr. W. H. Kinneir, stating that at a meeting of ratepayers, held on October 15th with regarding the purchase by the Corporation of that portion of the Wilts and Berks Canal situate within the borough, a deputation was appointed to interview the committee on the matter, and asking if the committee would receive the deputation- it was resolved that the committee receive the deputation.

THE North Wilts Herald
October 29th 1913.

May 1914 Scramble for Company Assets
There was a motion on the agenda to oppose before Parliament the Swindon Corporation ( wilts and berks canal abandonment ) bill 1914, either alone or in conjunction with any other body or bodies, and incur all such expenses as may be necessary to carry on such opposition. The Clerk said this was a mere formality in order to render legitimate payments which had already been made in opposition to the bill. As a matter of fact the bill was practically as agreed bill at the present moment.

Mr. Russell said he noticed that the local authorities interested in the canal were to receive £2,500 out of the Canal Companies assets. There were a great many such local authorities, and the amount that would come to each would be comparatively small.Is this to be a scramble amongst all the local authorities or are we to have a prior claim ? Asked Mr. Russell. He would not like to think that Berkshire was going to be practically in a defenceless position, and only going to engage in a scramble with another dozen authorities for a share of the "2,500.

He was told that Berkshire would be involved in an immediate expenditure of something like £1,000 in regard to bridges over the canal, and it seemed to him they had not fought the bill seriously. He believed there was " money at the back of it " and that they might have obtained better terms if they had taken up a stronger position before the Parliamentary Committee.

The Clerk said the negotiations were not yet at an end. The Wiltshire and Berkshire local authorities had consented to a division of the £2,500 being made by the County Surveyors of the Wiltshire and Berkshire, assisted by the surveyors of the local authorities, and their decision would be treated as final and binding on all bodies.

The Berkshire County Council were concerned with only four bridges carrying main roads over the canal,and the total number of bridges affected by the bill was between 50 and 60, so that it was obvious that any share the Council would get would be very small.

There were matters of negotiation still pending, and it would be difficult to allude to them at the presnt time, but they were in agreement that they could not have got better terms out of the promoters of the bill than they were likely to get.

North Wilts Herald
May 18th 1914

Sept 1913 Rural District Council
The Clerk read a communication from the Town Clerk of Swindon intimating the terms of agreement arrived at with reference to the Wilts and Berks Canal, and intimating that, if interested by way of bridges, the council might be represented at the conference.

The Chairman said it appeared to him it was scarcely necessary that they should move in the matter. They had three bridges very close to the canal, and it was for them to decide whether there was anything likely to arise which would make it desirable for that council to be represented at the meeting in question. There would be no harm in sending representatives, and if the Council was of that opinion he would move that the Clerk, the Surveyor, and Mr. Forester attend as a deputation. Mr. Sisum seconded and it was carried.

North Wilts Herald
September 23rd 1913.

May 1911 A defective bridge at Chippenham
The Surveyor reported that he had written to the Secretary of the Wilts and Berks Canal Company calling attention to the dangerous condition of Studley bridge, and had received a reply merely acknowledging the receipt of the letter and thanking him for the information. The Chairman: That's very humble, but the question is: What is going to be done ?

Other bridges have been repaired after pressure had been put on the company. Mr. Brinkworth remarked that every time a conveyance went over the bridge a brick or so feel into the canal. The Clerk was instructed to write to the Secretary of the Company and warn him that unless the bridge was made save the Council would take proceedings.

Evening North Wilts Herald

May 13th 1911.

May 1913 Council meeting

The Mayor said that from time to time various questions had been asked about the canal, both in the press and by members of the Council, and the sub-committee had decided that an interim report should be laid before the Corporation, not for discussion, but that they might know the question had not been forgotten.  He would ask the Town Clerk to read the report which had been adopted by the Committee.

The Town Clerk then read the report, which was as follows:-
It will be remembered that the Canal Sub-Committee of the Town Council was reappointed on the 21st November 1911.
A meeting of representatives of the Wilts County Council, the Berkshire County Council, the owners of the lands to the east and west of Swindon, the Town Council of Swindon and the Canal Company was held on the 23rd April 1912, and the Vice-Chairman of the Wilts County Council ( Mr. A. E.. Withy )was appointed Chairman.

After discussion the meeting came to the conclusion that the working-out of a scheme would be facilitated if agreement could first be reached between the Canal Company and the Corporation of Swindon. The meeting was then adjourned for the purpose of enabling the Canal Company and the Corporation to come to terms provisionally, in accordance with this suggestion.

Lengthy negotiations have since been carried on by the sub-committee through the Town Clerk, with the Canal Company, through their Secretary, with the assistance of Mr. Withy, as Chairman of the Conference, and as a result aprovisional agreement had been entered into between the Secretary of the Canal Company and the Town Clerk.

The agreement contains the terms which the sub-committee would be prepared to recommend to the Town Council for adoption. It is provisional only, and is subject to other parties such as the County Councils, and the land owners of the lands along the route of the canal, coming to an agreement with the Canal Company and the Corporation on the matters dealt with by the agreement. The agreement has been prepared solely as an aid to placing the negotiations on definite lines and showing how far, at present agreement has been reached between the parties. The scheme outlined in the agreement is now under the consideration of the representatives of the landowners and the other parties concerned.

The North Wilts Herald
Wednesday May 7th 1913.

1914 The Canal Bill
The Swindon Corporation ( Wilts and Berks Canal abandonment ) bill has been read a third time in the House of Lords and passed.
June 25th

The bill of the Swindon Corporation for the abandonment of the Wilts and Berks Canal, which has passed the Lords, is now unopposed in the Second House, the opposition of the Great Western Railway Company having been withdrawn.
It will be considered in due course by the Commons Committee on unopposed measures.
July 22nd

The Swindon Corporation ( Wilts and Berks Canal abandonment ) bill was considered in the House of Commons yesterday, on being reported from the Committee, and certain standing orders having been specially suspended, the bill was read for the third time.
July 30th

In the House of Lords on Friday the Swindon Corporation ( Wilts and Berks Canal abandonment ) act received the Royal Assent by commission.
August 1st

Aug 1918 A Dream of a letter to the Editor
A letter written to the Swindon Advertiser in August 1918 describing a dream of what might happen in 10 years time. When the derelict canal would be filled in and the area renovated to form a leisure & recreational area.
To the editor of the "Swindon Advertiser"
Returning to Swindon on a Summer's evening in 1928, after ten years absence, I was agreeably surprised at the alterations that had taken place during the ensuing period, more especially to the portion of the Town once occupied by the Wilts and Berks Canal, or as it was commonly termed the "cut". On either side of Fleet Street I found a pair of handsome wrought iron gates. Turning to the right I found myself in a small, but well laid out, bowling green, where a number of devotees of the ancient game-associated with the famous Drake and Plymouth Hoe- were enjoying a little recreation.
Further on my attention was attracted by a large crowd of interested spectators watching a game of skittles or ninepins. On making enquiries as to the cause of so much excitement I was informed that the match now in progress was the final tie of the Swindon Workers League, between teams representing the local branch of the Workers Educational Association and the Swindon Brotherhood. My time being limited, I was unable to await the result, so retracting my steps in the opposite direction, and, crossing the road, beheld in the midst of an open space covered by velvety turf an imposing monument of granite, some twenty feet high.
Approaching nearer, and reverently raising my hat I read the inscription thereon: Erected by the inhabitants of Swindon to the memory of the brave lads who at the call of King and Country left this town to take their part in the great European War, and who lost their lives in the struggle for Liberty and Freedom.
Continuing my ramble I passed under John Street Bridge, now scarcely recognisable beneath its mantle of ivy. A transformation had indeed taken place here. What was once an unsightly expanse of stagnant water, full of rank weeds and the receptacle of all kinds of garbage, was converted into a pleasure garden and boulevard. In the centre was a bandstand surrounded by tastefully laid out flower beds full of variegated blooms. Evergreen shrubs flourished in profusion, comfortable seats were placed at intervals along the winding gravel paths, a fountain throwing jets of cooling water high in the air made up a picture most pleasing to the eye. A number of men were enjoying a pipe of peace and well earned rest after their day's toil, whilst tired mothers released for a time from their domestic duties were discussing with their neighbours the chances of the respective lady candidates at the forthcoming municipal election.In a part of the grounds nearest Wellington Street a group of youngsters were disporting around a maypole, filling the air with their merry laughter.In close proximity was another group of elderly children, morris dancing in good old English style.Shelters of artistic design were placed here and there while near to the main entrance in Regent Street underground lavatories for both sexes had been built.
As I left the scene, I thanked Providence that the people of Swindon had at last seized the opportunity before it was too late to transform a desolate waste into a beauty spot. Only a dream, but it could be a reality if-
W.J.R. Swindon August 1918
Feb 1916 Towing Paths at South Marsden
The clerk read a long petition signed by almost every inhabitant of South Marston against the alleged obstruction of the canal towpath at South Marston, certain portions having been fenced in since the purchase of the canal undertaking by the Corporation of Swindon.
After considerable discussion it was resolved to reply that as at present advised the District Council could not take any steps in the matter.
It was pointed out by some members that the Parish Council of South Marston might take Council's advise on the matter.

The following 2nd item has been abbreviated.

At the monthly meeting of the Highworth Rural District Council on Wednesday last Mr. J. k. Coleing presiding the clerk Mr. Kirby read out two lengthy petitions which he had received from South Marston Parish Council, ratepayers, and householders. The petition said the tow path had been used by pedestrians for over half a century as a right of way.The petitions were signed by almost every one except those few who would benefit from its closure. A witness of 94 years of age declared that in 1840 before the Great Western Railway was made the towing path was a free pathway between Swindon and the Liberty of Shrivenham. Mr. J.J. Sansum had declared that he was justified in putting up a barbed wire fence for the protection of his property. The parishioners contended that a right of way had been established.
The clerk recommended the Council get the path declared a public right of way. Because the adjoining property owners said it would be a nuisance no stand was taken, except in regard to the length between Swindon and Wroughton. By permission of the Canal Company this portion was made a public footway.
Mr. Thorne said he had known the path for 50 years and had never heard of anyone being interfered with except for fishing. The clerk stated that the Council should obtain legal advice. Mr. Samson said he bought the land from the canal and put up obstructions after seeking legal advise. The obstruction was put up on November 16th 1914, trespassers were constantly on the ground with guns and dogs, he showed his deeds to the Council before putting the barbed wire up.
Mr. Currey observed , was it a footpath, a right of way, or a bridle track and who's duty was it to repair. Mr. Ashford proposed that a reply be sent to the South Marston Council stating that as at present advised the Rural District Council cannot take any steps in the matter. This was seconded by Mr. Curry and carried.

Swindon Evening Advertiser Feb 25 1918

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