The Construction of Wichelstowe Landing Stage
Swindon Branch News
Saturday, 04 July 2015 00:00
The pictures below show the construction stages of the landing stage at Waitrose Wichelstowe
Right The Duchess of Cornwall naming Dragonfly on 9th September 2009 
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Saturday 4th July 2015. One week before the inauguration
Trainee Skipper Dawn brings Dragonfly alongside the Landing Stage at Waitrose for the first time  
WP 20150628_002-1000 Sunday 28th June 2015 WP 20150628_001-1000
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 Saturday 20th June 2015

The Landing Stage at Waitrose
is being constructed and Dragonfly
will be departing from there
from the middle of July
View from_Coffee_Shop
Work at_Waitrose_1

                      May 2015

The first part of works for the new trip boat departure point at the
Waitrose store Wichelstowe Swindon has just begun.
WBCT volunteers are carrying out piling works before a local contractor
completes the landing stage and lays the paths to the car park.
The design will allow full disabled access to trip boat Dragonfly which has lift
access. Works are scheduled to be completed by the end of June
with an official opening in July.
Heron at_Waitrose

Whatever is happening on the canal

Henry the Heron is always there !!

Work at_Waitrose_2

April 2015

Planning consent was granted on the 8th April after many  changes to meet all the council’s requirements.  We have to fulfil a few conditions relating to the protection of existing trees and new planting before starting construction.  However, we are almost ready to go and expect to appoint a contractor soon. 

The landing stage next to the new Waitrose store will enable us to start our narrow boat trips from there.  The location is much easier to access than our present landing at Westlease, specially for users with restricted mobility.  Eventually a new district centre, and we hope a pub, will be built on the opposite bank.  We have designed the landing stage to high standard so that it blends well with this high profile position.


Important Announcements - Visit of Duchess of Cornwall & A New President
Trust News
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 09:07

2010-09-08 001Wichelstowe Landing Stage - Press Release

The Trustees are delighted to announce that our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will inaugurate the new Wichelstowe landing stage alongside Waitrose at West Wichel on the afternoon of Monday 13th July at 2.30 pm.

WP 20150628_002-1000Her Royal Highness will arrive at the event on our trip boat Dragonfly, and will unveil a commemorative plaque.  The unveiling ceremony will be attended by local dignitaries, Trust volunteers, sponsors and supporters, and we hope by a large number of Trust members.

Right The Duchess of Cornwall naming Dragonfly on 9th September 2009
Left Landing Stage on Sunday 28th June 2015

 New President

We are pleased to announce that the Trust has a new President.  The Hon Sir William McAlpine Bt FRSE  has kindly agreed to become our President with immediate effect. 

Sir William was a director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd for more than fifty years.  He is Chairman of: The Railway Heritage Trust - The Dart Valley Railway - Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway - SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine – Railnews - SONE (Supporters of Nuclear Energy).  Sir William is a Governor of Shiplake College and is President of the Transport Trust and other organisations.   Sir William has served for several terms on the ZSL Council (Zoological Society London) and is now on the Development Committee. He has accepted the Presidency of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust as an extension of his interest in historic transport.

We are looking forward enormously to working with Sir William, and benefitting from his very extensive experience and expertise in the field of heritage transport.

We are very grateful to our previous President, Dr David Fletcher CBE, for his great support over many years, and are pleased that he has agreed to become one of our Vice-Presidents, so that we can continue our connection with him.


Topping out ceremony Cocklemore Brook Culvert
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Winter storm damage demolished part of the culvert that carries Cocklemore brook under the canal at  Pewsham Locks.

Thanks to financial support of the Yorkshire Building Society’s Living Legacy fund and much hard work by the volunteer team the culvert has been completely rebuilt.

Before the structure is buried ( for at least another 200 years!) a topping out ceremony took place, on Friday 3rd July,  where Lee Hathaway from Yorkshire Building Society,  Local MP Michelle Donelan and the Mayor of Chippenham David Powell admired the rebuilt structure and thanked the volunteer team for their hard work

Read Full Press release 

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 Lee Hathaway_brick748    RayBasil- 748

Roderick Bluh has accepted our invitation to become Chairman of the Trust.
Trust News
Friday, 15 May 2015 09:19

Roderick Bluh  appointed Chairman of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Roderick Bluh as its Chairman. The appointment was ratified at the meeting of the Trust’s directors.

The Trust has invited Roderick Bluh to become its Chairman because of his enthusiasm and support for the restoration of the canal, and his belief in the enormous potential benefits, both economic and social, it could bring to Swindon.

Kath Hatton, Vice-Chairman of the Trust, said:

“The Trust is thrilled that Roderick Bluh has accepted our invitation to become our Chairman.  He has long been a supporter of the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal, and we are looking forward to benefiting from his knowledge and experience.  His well-known skills of organisation and management will be invaluable to the Trust as we re-organise ourselves to manage the changes coming about.  The pace of the restoration is quickening, with more and bigger projects coming along, and we need to be ready for them.  In addition of course he has a deep knowledge of the town of Swindon, which the Trust sees as having the potential to become the hub of a southern canals network.”

Roderick Bluh recently stood down as a local councillor in Swindon, and previously he was Leader of the Council from 2006 to 2013.  He said:

“I am honoured to be asked by the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust to be their Chairman.  It is something that I see as being a huge asset for all communities along its route, and something which has the potential to bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the town of Swindon, as well as to our neighbouring counties of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.  Of course, I know the plans for the canal in Swindon very well, but I am looking forward to learning about the plans for restoration all along the rest of the line, especially with major schemes like the Melksham Link now so imminent.  The major developments planned for the Wichelstowe area, and in the Eastern Villages, will give great opportunities to extend the canal, which will be a very considerable amenity for these new communities.”

Contact: Chris Coyle 07710 737166 or by EMail

Swindon Advertiser 18th May 2015


Dragonfly Boat 2015 News.
Boat Trips News
Friday, 08 May 2015 00:00


Images from 2015

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Henry is always there Happy Charter Flotilla outside Waitrose Store
Jigsaw Competition 
Penny Gould

IMGP4075-1000HRH The Duchess of Cornwall inaugurates Landing Stage

The Dragonfly Boat Team worked  hard  to produce a faultless performance for Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall. Cleaning, painting, filling up with diesel and water and all the tasks that made Dragonfly look wonderful.  Then Annie and Wendy who practised hard and produced a first class journey for the distinguished guests.

 See all the pictures




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Waitrose Landing Stage  

Yay, rain water coming into the canal at Skew 5th July 2015

 Pictures of the Building of the Landing Stage



 CCBM Course & Exam

Four members of the Dragonfly Boat team will be taking their CCBM test on the Kennet and Avon Canal in July and had some practice on board Lynda May on the Grand Union Canal

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Sequel1-1000Seqol Day Centre OK for You Charter Thursday June 25th

We had 2 wheelchair users and all of them seemed to have a lovely time. They reported that SEQOL have 50 carers all responsible for a number of individuals, and feel sure there would be a lot more bookings in the future. One of the carers said it was so relaxing she felt she'd been given some sort of medication.

Doctor saves life on CanalBird resued1-1000

During the trip retired GP  saved a life (hopefully). He fished a young bird out of the water that would otherwise have drowned at Beavans  Bridge on the final return run. We think it was a young crow. The bird stayed on the roof of Dragonfly all the rest of the trip; even when moored at Christine's  it just sat there through the whole procedure.  We weren't sure whether to leave it there, but in the end walked along the outer gunwale & waved  hands a bit and  it flew off into Christine's garden, so we are sure it's OK. 


Makes it all worthwhile Swindon Advertiser Letters to the Editor 24th June


 12th Swindon Beavers

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One of regular groups joined us again for a trip down the canal on Monday 8th June.
As usual they had a great time.




 12th Birthday Party - Dress to Impress!

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Dragonfly Boat Team bring Peterborough Arms to life. 

IMGP3064-1000Peterborough Arms held its first Trust Social event for the Trust on Saturday 21st March, although meetings had been held there previously. The Dragonfly Boat Team enjoyed a skittles evening. We had skittles, darts and an old 1980’s electronic pub game called Galaxians (shoot the alien spaceships).


Also available were, cards, draughts, chess, Monopoly etc, however we did not have time for all of those.  A substantial buffet was provided and a small profit was made for the Trust. We were please to welcome some members of the Peterborough Arms Steering group to our event.

The feeling was summed up by one member “it was fun to meet and play skittles and darts in our own pub! And good to meet up with some fellow Dragonfliers”


Gifts & Souvenirs of your visit to nb Dragonfly


Abandoned Section of Canal to be brought back to life
Trust News
Sunday, 03 May 2015 05:57


StudleyA DERELICT stretch of abandoned canal will soon be brought back to life after the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has received £575,000 of grants.

This funding will be used to restore the canal  and create a wildlife corridor at Studley Grange.

Work will begin this month on transforming the 1.25km stretch between Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon, thanks to support from Viridor Credits through the Landfill Community Fund , and the People’s Millions, the Inland Waterways Association and the Underwood Trust.

It will link with the restored section at Chaddington Lock with the ultimate aim of forming a navigable waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon.



Kath Hatton is the vice-chairman of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and the charity’s fundraising director. She said: “We are really excited that this section of the waterway will soon be restored thanks to the generous support of so many organisations. “It will be a complex operation as the canal was filled in when it was abandoned in the early part of the last century, so contractors will need to excavate the route and then dispose of the soil on the adjacent former landfill site as part of a new landscaping scheme. “The damaged towpath will be reinstated and piling work will be required to stabilise some of the canal bank. However, once the work has been completed we will have a wonderful new wildlife haven which will be freely accessible to the local community.”


The Viridor Credits Environmental Company was established in 2001 to distribute funding via the Landfill Communities Fund. Their award of more than £349,500 is the largest single grant ever made to the Canal Trust.


Location Map-1000The Underwood Trust, a long-time supporter, is co-funding the excavation of Studley Grange. It is also funding the planting of the wildlife corridor in association with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth (The Bee Cause). The hope is that the corridor will be extended along the length of the canal.

A grant from the People’s Millions will provide a multi-use surface to the towpath and a share of the planting for the wildlife corridor, as well as bird and bat boxes, benches and leaning posts and support for community involvement in the project.

SG Location


Kath added: “This will be an amazing attraction when finished, but the Trust still needs to continue fundraising for some of the preliminary works including site clearance and ground investigations in order to release further funding. Our own members have already raised nearly £10,000 but we need to reach £25,000 to unlock the rest of the support which has been promised. Therefore we hope that local residents and businesses will recognise the value of this scheme and offer their own donations to help us bring the canal back to life.”


Studley Grange funding appeal  - Can you help ?


PLEASE NOTE  General access to the site will not be possible during the period of the works . Escorted visits may be possible by contacting Kath Hatton or Chris Coyle.

Studley Grange & Chaddington sections of the canal (Justin Guy) Location map and aerial view (Google)



Local generosity helps Canal Trust raise over £3,000 at Charity Auction
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Thursday, 02 April 2015 06:35

The second MCC Charity Auction, held on 26th March, and it was a great success in so many ways. The event organised by Jeff & Lynda Daws who set a target of getting 80 Lots. A target which the rest of the team thought might be a challenging but the opposite was true and we ended up with 87 Lots on the night. The generosity of people and companies was simply amazing, including our Patron, who donated a Highgrove Champagne Tea package. Success number 1

The next challenge was to fill the room with eager punters. At the first auction, 3 years ago, we had 50 people attend but this time we had nearly 100. Val Melville had worked tirelessly on the PR front and produced articles which appeared in all the major Wiltshire newspapers, waterway magazines. All this effort culminated in our Chairman, Derek Flexer, being interviewed on BBC Wiltshire Radio, which as you will see later was a real bonus. Success number 2

Finally, Jeff had another target for us to achieve. Jeff wanted to raise £3,000 which was £1000 more than our first auction total. On the night we raised £3154. There were three specialist items that did not reach their reserve and they will be auctioned at the Chippenham Auction Rooms in the near future. So with a bit of luck we may get near the £3,500 mark. Success number 3

What of Derek’s interview? One of the star Lots was John Laverick’s offer for 4 people to experience a chance to steer and fire the engine of his steam launch. Derek Flexer highlighted this Lot during his interview with the BBC. This was listened to be a lady driving back to Swindon from London who immediately contacted us a put in a bid for this Lot. She wanted it as a birthday present for her husband who is a steam enthusiast. She was willing to pay a lot of money to get this experience which she won with a tremendous bid of £400. It pay to advertise! Success number 4

Clearly, many hours hard work were put in by Jeff’s team to achieve these successes but they were sustained in their efforts by the support that came from people outside of the Trust. So some thanks are due. First to the Angel Hotel, who let us use their facilities free of charge and set everything up on the night. Then there was our auctioneer, Gordon Brockman, who skilfully and with a lot of humour encouraged people to part with their money. He is a real star. Our thanks to him and Chippenham Auction Rooms for their continued support and also to Strakers who sponsored the printing of our catalogue. There was also a team of backroom boys & girls who produce poster and flyers, then distributed them around the area and a host of other tasks that made the evening run smoothly. Thank you all.

Finally a great big thank you to all those who tuned up on the night and made the evening the undoubted success it was and a special thanks to Jeff & Lynda for volunteering to lead this event. Well done everyone. 

Malcolm Hitchinson

WBCT/MCC Events Committee Chair


The Press release 

Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and individuals, local canal restoration charity, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, raised a total of over £3,000 at their recent auction held at The Angel Hotel in Chippenham.

The event was held to raise funds to support the promotion and restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal, particularly as local branch, the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne Branch, has recently stepped up its restoration efforts. As well restoring a collapsed 200 year old culvert, volunteers have started work on the immense task of rebuilding the first of the three locks at Pewsham near Chippenham.

Jeff Daws, auction organiser said: “We were amazed at how generous people were both by donating brilliant items and experiences, and also by bidding for them on the night – either in person, or via commission bids. We would like to thank everyone: the donors, the bidders, the Angel Hotel, and Strakers Estate Agents.”

“Gordon Brockman from Chippenham Auction Rooms was our brilliant auctioneer. He worked incredibly hard during the evening; he had over 80 lots to sell, and had to persuade buyers to part with their hard-earned cash. He did this with humour and professionalism, entertaining an audience of about 100, most of whom went home very pleased to have secured a bargain.” Thanks to everyone’s fantastic support, the evening exceeded all our expectations. All money raised will be used locally to help restore and promote the Wilts & Berks Canal.”

2014-09-07 Melksham_River_Festival_8118One star item of the night was the exciting opportunity to have a hands-on experience on-board the steam launch Scathtan. Scathtan is a genuine coal-fired steam launch, powered by a miniature steam engine of the type used on Titanic. Her owner, John Laverick, Vice President of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, donated this as a unique opportunity, and he was delighted that Scathtan had helped to raise such a fantastic amount for this exciting, community restoration project. Despite the link with Titanic, he assured the winning bidders that an iceberg-free voyage would be guaranteed!

HRH onboardlogo2_croppedTheir Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall donated a Highgrove Garden Tour and Champagne Tea for two people. The lucky winning bidders were Jack and Gail Richmond, who said “We are very pleased to have supported the work of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust by successfully bidding for a visit to Highgrove House gardens with a champagne tea - we hope the plants will talk to us on the day!”

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, is patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and has previously supported the Trust by opening the restored Double Bridge, naming the Trust’s trip boat Dragonfly, and turning the first sod for the new Melksham Link, which is currently awaiting planning permission.

Malcolm Hitchinson (Chair of MCC Branch Events Committee) said: “We were thrilled to be given this splendid item for our auction, and are sure that the winning bidders will have a wonderful experience at Highgrove. John Laverick has also been a tremendous advocate and ambassador for the Trust for many, many years, and we would like to thank him for donating his time and sharing his beautiful heritage steam vessel Scathtan.”

Other very popular lots were: tickets for the Chippenham Folk Festival, golf at the Bowood Course (donated by Lord Lansdowne), and a tour of the Royal Navy Historic Flight Hangar at Yeovilton. This is not normally open to the public, and generated an enthusiastic bidding war by several auction-goers keen to get a close view of the historic Swordfish, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk and Chipmunk.

The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne Branch of the Canal Trust has recently stepped up its restoration efforts. As well as restoring a collapsed 200 year old culvert, volunteers have started work on the immense task of rebuilding the first of the three locks at Pewsham near Chippenham. 

Members of the public are warmly invited to join the MCC Branch on their annual Sponsored Walk to Lacock at 10:00am on Sunday May 10th, when members will be on hand to explain plans and progress, especially at Pewsham Locks.

Urgent Funding Appeal for the Studley Grange Project
Trust News
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 06:52

This exciting project at Royal Wootton Bassett will restore 1.25 kilometre section of the Wilts & Berks Canal and will create a wildlife trail alongside a former landfill site, quite a contrast to the derelict place that it is at present.  There will be 24/7 access for all and this stretch will link with the already restored section around Chaddington Lock. We will be involving the local community especially the children’s groups and schools who will be able to visit and help with planting and monitoring the return of the wildlife. 

We need over £600,000 overall and have a complicated mix of potential funding for the various aspects of the project, some secured and some where decisions are awaited. This includes grants from the People’s Millions, IWA, the Underwood Trust, the Landfill Community Fund and others.

How can you help?       

We now have an urgent situation where we need to start on preliminary works ahead of the main excavation and need approximately £50,000 in the next few weeks. These works will include site clearance, ground investigation, land drainage consent and confirmation of the methodology for the works. One of our funders will release some of their funding for this as long as we can match it and so our appeal is to raise £25000 so that we can start these preliminary tasks.

Can you help with a donation?  Every pound we receive will release another pound of funding.

NB. If the monies raised exceed the preliminary works, your donation will be used for other matched funding or to fund a contributing Third Party payment to a Landfill Operator.

 You can donate on line :

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Donate on line
Text to Donate charities/wiltsberkscanaltrust

You can give via TEXT   -for example - to give £5   Text:  WBCT25 £5 to 70070

(just a note here for anyone nervous of trying this – I tried the text-giving the other night for the first time to make sure  it worked and it is very easy even on a pay-as-you-go mobile (Kath). It works with any amount.)

You can send a cheque made payable to Wilts & Berks Canal Trust to:

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust PO Box 3630  SWINDON SN4 4AN

Please mark the cheque Studley Appeal

Gift Aid

If you have not completed a Gift Aid form  and would like your donation to  eligible for gift aid  for this and any other donations to  Wilts & Berks Canal Trust please email us and we will send one out for you to complete.

The amount raised up to June  17th £11138 - Many thanks to those who have given


Dragonfly Trips in Swindon
Boat Trips News
Friday, 20 February 2015 14:06

Third poster_of_the_season_2015


 Dragonfly Trips started again on Sunday 29 March.  

We will be running every Saturday & Sunday

10.30, 12.00, 13.30 & 3.00

Plus some Wednesdays during the School Holidays.

Trips on Wednesday 27th May 

10.30, 12.00, 13.30 & 3.00

Adults £5 Children Free

More Details

Gifts & Souvenirs of your visit to nb Dragonfly

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