West Vale Hosts a Nationwide Work-party
West Vale News
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 12:43

5th November, 2014

Our regular mid-week work-party was swelled by another eager team of volunteers from Nationwide Building Society.

Great progress was made by three groups attacking the scrub and summer growth at our Canal-side Park in Shrivenham.

2014 11 5 NW1  2014 11 5 NW2  2014 11 5 NW3

 Canal banks were tidied and the route for a new path around the park was cleared in readiness for levelling and surfacing - a project part-funded by The Vale of White Horse District Council.

The weather was kind, dry and suitably cool for tough physical labour, with just sufficient wind for not just one essential bonfire (considering the date) but four!

Together with a good lunch at a local pub, everyone seemed to have had a great day out.



AGM 2014
Trust News
Thursday, 23 October 2014 05:24

The Canal Trust's Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 18th October 2014 at the Old Mill Hall Grove

AGM 2014





















Presentations on the Trust's activities during the past year were made followed by awards for volunteering and recruitment of members.

For 2013/14 the Awards were:

Pick of the Branches Award Foxham & Lynham

Tony Davy Rose Bowl award  ( most recorded volunteer  hours) Chris Coyle

Branch most recorded volunteer hours  MCC

Branch biggest increase in volunteer hours Royal Wootton Bassett

Melksham River Festival Report & Photos
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00

2014 Melksham River Festival 6th & 7th September

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Commemorative Event

Leekes of Melksham assure success of River Festival -  See Details


 Video and Photos

The Independent Melksham News"First ever Melksham River Festival hailed a huge success"

Read article in The Melksham Independent News

"ORGANISERS of Melksham's first River Festival
have hailed it a success after huge crowds turned out to
watch the entertainment. 
Organised by the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
on the banks of the river Avon in Melksham, attractions included
canoeing and scuba diving demonstrations, steam boats,
illuminated boats, live music and much more".
Photo and Report from The Melksham Independent News Wednesday 10th September
Read Report on the Festival by Val Melville- originally published in Dragonfly - the Magazine

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nb Dragonfly back in Swindon after Melksham River Festival
Boat Trips News
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 09:16
10th September  Dragonfly is back in Swindon after her adventures at The River Festival  at Melksham.  


Protecting the Pavement




Mind that Lampost


Almost there



Not quite a splash


She is home !!- Rob in the white hard hat

The Independent Melksham News"First ever Melksham River Festival hailed a huge success"

Read article in The Melksham Independent News

Boatmaster Robert Yeowell said, "We were delighted that so many people
wanted the chance to experience this beautiful river and its wildlife
from the water. Some were lucky enough to see a kingfisher, heron or even
a bird of prey, as well as the local moorhens, coots, swans and ducks.
Any visitors who were disappointed not to get a trip at Melksham,
will be very welcome at Kingshill Swindon once Dragonfly is
returned to her usual berth." 
Photo from The Melksham Independent News Wednesday 10th September


Click here to read report and photos on the Melksham River Festival 
26th August Dragonfly has been lifted out of the Wilts & Berks Canal and taken to Melksham.  
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 Complete Dragonfly_Flight-1000


Swindon Advertiser 

27 August 2014


Read the article on line


Comments from the Swindon Advertiser

I'm glad she'll get to be with other
boats for a bit. She seems a little
lonely up on the canal never seeing
any other boats. All the more
reason to get the restoration
process completed 
Swindon will be a better town for it. 
Believe me !

Redhouse Red

They've done a superb job
with the canal.  It' really is
something for the town
to be proud of.
Well done to all concerned



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Above and below Dragonfly being steamed cleaned at Thamesdown Transport Ltd
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Above - Arrival at Cooper Tyre & Rubber Co
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Gentle lift into the River Avon
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The tree that was removed
at the last minute so that the
Festival can take place


Involve Swindon Award
Swindon Branch News
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 16:54

Involve Swindon_award2The Trust has been recognised with a 10th Anniversary Special Recognition award from Involve
Swindon. The special award is for commitment to the scheme through continued use of company
volunteers over several years .

Involve Swindon encourages employees with company support to offer their time and professional
skills, usually during work time, for the benefit of voluntary and community groups.  Special mention
was made of the efforts by Ray Aldridge, the Swindon work party organiser,  to engage with the
scheme and adapt to the availability of volunteers.

The award was made at an event in the Marriott Hotel on 26th June which was attended by about
100 people representing the companies sponsoring and taking part in the scheme and the community organisations which benefit from the activities.

Hope for £55m boost for Melksham if canal flows through town
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 08:58

Latest News from This is   Wednesday June 4th

Hope of £55m Boot for Melksham


And again on Friday June 7th

Canal may lock £55m boost for Melksham.




Report on Pewsham Heritage Open Day
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Sunday, 01 June 2014 00:00


Gazette & Herald Friday 27th June

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Children making bricks
with Mike Stone
from Chippenham Museum
& Heritage Centre
On Friday 20th  and Saturday21st June, the sounds of hammering,
sawing and blacksmithing rang out once again at Pewsham Locks,
after 100 years of silence following the abandonment of the Wilts & Berks Canal.
The ambitious plan to recreate the characters and activities
connected with Pewsham, and then to invite schools
and the local community, was made possible by the efforts of
volunteers belonging to the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust,
supported by many members of the local community
and funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage Grant.
Visitors had the chance to try their hand at brick making with William Cullis,
making a metal hook with Charles Isaac, log sawing and drilling
with Alfred Hodgson, bridge building with John Smith,
clay puddling with Stephen Holland, tying a decorative dragonfly
with James Silk, fishing with John Tuck and boat gauging with
Samuel Brown. All were people who actually lived and worked on or
near the canal at Pewsham, their stories researched and
provided by local historians Ray Alder and Jan Flanagan.  


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Teamwork: using a brace and bit to drill a hole in a log

          Other notable characters with fascinating stories were Ambrose Neate
(local hero, himself only 12 years old, who tried to save a drowning child),
Elizabeth Rawlings (born on a boat at Pewsham),
Sarah Brown (badly injured during a break-in at the lock cottage)
and Mr Ralph Hale Gaby, one of the earliest subscribers to the canal company.
Children listened enthralled, fascinated by the tales of the people who built and operated the canal.
120 children, dressed in Victorian costumes, and from four different schools,
had arrived at the site on foot and spent a wonderful day
getting muddy, painty, using ‘proper’ tools and learning
how to decorate plates canal-style, card, spin, weave, crochet
and make lace. They eventually went back to their various schools tired,
very hot, but very happy. 

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Children dressed in Victorian costumes about to start their exciting day

          Gaye Webb is a teacher at St Peter’s School.
She said: “It felt like we were on the set of Larkrise to Candleford with the scenery and costumes on Friday. The canal is such an important part of our town’s heritage and when fully restored will provide so much for our community as well as bringing people in from other areas.” 


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Frankie the canal horse in his bonnet to keep off the flies

Dan Wrixon, teacher at King’s Lodge said:
 “On our return to school, we chatted about the day and the children were able to recall lots of learning about the canal and the activities they had participated in. They were keen to go home and tell mums and dads too! We'll keep an interest in the future progress of restoring the locks.”
Saturday was the longest day of the year, and the second of
the Open Days. Over 300 people attended, travelling on foot,
by bike, by car or on a free minibus from the Town Centre".

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Testing the clay puddling with 'Stephen Holland' aka Sassan Panahinejad

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Val Melville, volunteer with WBCT
and Chippenham Deputy Mayor
Mr David Powell who opened the event
Val Melville is a volunteer with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.
 She said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the success
of the Community Open Day. The atmosphere was brilliant with
so many cheerful visitors, traditional music, Frankie the canal horse
on the towpath, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust,
Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre and Ellendale Environmental,
plus all the fantastic activities.
We would like to thank Councillor David Powell Deputy Mayor for opening the event,
and Cherry Ann Knott from the Heritage Lottery Fund, who
spent several hours looking at all the activities on offer.
It was wonderful to see so many visitors enjoying themselves
whilst learning about their heritage; so many more local people now know
about the canal and its importance to the history of Chippenham.
All the hard work by the volunteers has proved very worthwhile
and we would like to thank the local community for their support
and interest in our project to restore the locks and
the rest of this significant industrial heritage site.”


Using  a doubled end saw

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West said:
 “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve
into their  local heritage and we are delighted to be able to
offer this grant so that the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
and Chippenham Museum can embark on a real journey of discovery.
Heritage means such different things to different people
and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups
to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their local area.”

Read more about this in "This is Wiltshire"  19th June



Dragonfly Boat Trip News - August 2014
Boat Trips News
Friday, 30 May 2014 00:00



Dragonfly on front cover

of Dragonfly - the Magazine

Trainee Skipper Sally Parkin

brings Dragonfly through

Beavans Bridge

Summer 2014

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Charter and BBQ in the Evening sunshine Wednesday July 30th 2014
"It was a great success. Many thanks for organising for me".

 May 24th Charter 

and Public Trips

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 24May-Ducks  24May-Swans  24May-Waitrose

Corportate Evening out 23 July 2014 

 The Outside Clinic

"We all had  a wonderfully  relaxing evening and thank the Crew
for their very attentive service. 
It’s really great that there is such a wonderful opportunity
to sample life in the slow lane so close to the centre of Swindon"
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Mike Lang moves to Devon

Canal Postcard-1000In June Mike  Lang wrote his last report for  Dragonfly – the Magazine -  before moving to Devon.

Public trips started on Sunday 13th April and since that time we have operated Dragonfly for  trips on each Saturday and Sunday. In addition we have carried groups on various “official” trips and  charters. As I write this report, we have carried a total of 185 passengers (not including children) and raised over £1100,  and so with good weather this will be a very successful summer season. We have also been asked to accept pre-booking for some Santa Trips, because some of our summer passengers were upset that they were unable to join us as for the last 2 years we were fully booked  within days of starting the advertising.

The new store at Waitrose has also raised our profile because each time the DRAGONFLY passes the store Waitrose customers ask the store welcome staff about her, and indeed the staff have started to hand out both Joining and Canal Trip Leaflets.

We now await the construction of a Landing Stage at the Waitrose site and the Boat Team feel that business will substantially increase when we are able to embark and disembark passengers at the store.

It would be good to offer weekday shopping trips from Kingshill to Waitrose (indeed if we started early enough we could offer staff transport to work (yes - some walk the towpath to work).

With all these extra trips we would welcome some more volunteers both as Crew and as Skippers. There will be a course later in the year, so anyone wishing to train for the CCBM Certificate should please email  the Boat Team

This will, however, be my last BOAT report as Teresa and I are moving down to Devon. It has been a privilege to look after DRAGONFLY for the last two years and I trust that my successor will have as much enjoyment from the task as I have done.

I look forward to returning to Swindon to embark on the first cruise from Kingshill  under Mill Lane to Wichelstowe (hopefully early in 2015).


M A Lang

Group-1000So on Wednesday 2nd July the Boat team gathered on Bruce Trust boat Diana to say thank you to Mike and Teresa for all they had done for Dragonfly – the boat. They were presented with a oil painting of Dragonfly coming through Skew Bridge shown above. Mike and_Mike_on_Diana-1000The artist was Mike Pattenhall who the week before had repainted the actual Dragonfly after all the wear and tear are of her Swindon trips.

It was a wonderful evening spent in the sunshine on the Kennett & Avon with a rare chance for the Boat Team to meet up and share an excellent supper. 

Postcards of the painting are now available - please contact the Boat Team


Dragonfly Boat Trip News - April to June 2014
Boat Trips News
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 00:00

 Brownie Canoe Event

This is Wiltshire article on the event 22 June 2014

Heather Scoynes, county water advisor, said: “The Wilts & Berks canal provided the perfect opportunity to incorporate the 100-mile paddle challenge, giving each Brownie a chance to paddle one mile to add to the tally “

Swindon Branch and the Dragonfly team 
were in attendance at the Brownie Canoe 
event over the weekend of 7th and 8th June. 
Over 300 Brownies from around the
region  undertook a challenge to paddle
a total of 100 miles on the Canal
between Red Bridge (Waitrose)
and Skew Bridge during the two days
They achieved  the 100 miles
on the Saturday, and nearly
there again on the Sunday. 
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  The girls take on the spirit of Dragonfly  
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 Press Release

DEVELOP take a trip down the Wilts & Berks Canal

On Monday 12th May 2014 DEVELOP staff took a trip to the Wilts & Berks Canal where they were able to learn more about the organisation and their plans for developing the canal in the future. Luckily the weather held out and staff enjoying the cruise along the canal in the sun. Mike Lang, the skipper, even allowed staff to have a go at steering Dragonfly along the canal.

The trip was originally organised as part of the Corporate Community Engagement initiative run by DEVELOP to enhance relationships between local businesses and charities. The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust aims to develop and restore the canal which has been derelict for many years. The boarding point  is situated near Old Town and there is currently only a short but attractive stretch of the canal which Dragonfly can travel down due to the narrowing of the canal meaning she is unable to be turned around. The Trust aims to re-connect the canal to the North Wilts Canal which runs to Cricklade and the Kennet and Avon Canal near Melksham. The Canal also links to the River Thames at Abingdon.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust run boat trips at the weekend from Old Town, Swindon, which are open to the public and children go free – so a great activity come rain or shine as Dragonfly also has an indoor seated area. You can also support the Canal Trust by becoming a member or a volunteer.


Swindon advertiser article on this story June 9th 2014


Spring Bank Holiday Monday on the Wilts & Berks Canal    

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 Safety Talk    Note the Grey Heron on the bank
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Swans & their 6 cygnets Wonderful red brickwork  


Roses and Dragonfly Training Days April 1st 2014

The Dragonfly Boat Crew held 2 training sessions before the start of the Dragonfly trip season.



We were pleased to see 2 new Roses panals painted and donated by Maggie Lee.

They both. add to the charm of the boat,  and will  give children a focus when discussing narrowboat traditions.

Thank you Maggie  very much.



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It was necessary to test out the wheelchair lift after the winterisation and in the absence of a actual wheelchair, Keith Price's grandchildren stood in.

Sammy and Isaac acted as a wheel each and joined hands to make a 'pretend' wheelchair. It was great fun and passed the Health & Safety test. The boys can't wait to come back to do more boat work.

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