Dragonfly the star of the day at Waitrose opening
Boat Trips News
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 00:00

A  fantastic day on Dragonfly  at
the Waitrose Store opening on
Thursday 10th April.  Dragonfly was
the star of the show and the children 
enjoyed her doing figure of eights in the pound. 
Dragonfly April_14_KP_011 Waitrose 10-4-14001 Waitrose 10-4-14000
Dragonfly April_14_KP_018 Waitrose 10-4-14003 Waitrose 10-4-14002

West Vale Welcomes Nationwide Volunteers
West Vale News
Thursday, 27 March 2014 16:47

26th March, 2014

2014 3_26_NW1 2014 3_26_NW2 2014 3_26_NW3
On Wednesday we welcomed back
a large team of volunteers
from the Nationwide Building Society.
Over 30 enthusiastic staff from the
finance department came to the
canal-side park in Shrivenham.
They worked hard clearing the banks of
the canal for around 200m and tidying
the park. Another group planting
numerious new trees along the
boundary fence. Fortunately the
weather was not unkind and just sufficient
wind blew to carry away the smoke
from the bonfires. All agreed that it was
a great day and the difference
was very noticeable.
 2014 3_26_NW4 2014 3_26_NW5



Tree Planting work by AFL improves Canal
Swindon Branch News
Thursday, 20 March 2014 08:20

Tree Planting_by_AFL_copy



Staff from Swindon-Based fibre optic and cable manufacturer AFL have helped improve the area around a restored stretch of the town's histroic Wilts & Berks Canal .

The tree plant followed local residents planting many trees the week before, and we would like to thank AFL for the donation which paid for the trees


Swindon Business News

March 19 2014  And in

tree planting_in_march_14-1000


Swindon Advertiser

March 20 2014

Local Children Explore Canals at Chippenham Museum
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 08:01


IMG 3613Children from Chippenham and the surrounding area, and even some from as far away as Swindon and Weston-super-Mare, recently experienced a tremendously successful series of canal based activities in Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre.

The Half Term activities were organised by the museum and the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and were funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage grant.

Activities such as making model narrow boats, tying knotted key rings, painting canalware and taking part in a mini archaeological dig, were all planned to help children have fun, while learning more about their local heritage, especially the role of Wilts & Berks Canal in Chippenham.

IMG 3648On Thursday, ‘Alice Ashe’, a resident of Chippenham, visited the museum and enthralled children with her opinions on the canal people – she was not very complimentary about their behaviour, and had even had to move away from the Market Place because of the unsavoury nature of the canal wharf!

The three days proved incredibly popular, with over 120 children and 75 adults attending the event, organised to commemorate 100 years since the abandonment of the canal.

Melissa Barnett is the curator of Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre.

She said: “This is such a wonderful project which is introducing children to an important but largely forgotten part of their heritage. There are so many exciting stories that can be told about life on the canal and traditional skills that can be passed on. I was so pleased to see the museum buzzing with happy children proudly showing off their crafts and look forward to the family events in June where there will be even more activities.”

Val Melville is a volunteer with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

Chippenham workshopShe said: “We were delighted with the tremendous response to the Activity Days! The children were so excited by the activities and really enjoyed finding out more about the canal; everyone went away very enthusiastic about what they had made and learnt.  It was a pleasure to work with the museum for this event, and it was brilliant to be able to use their excellent education facilities to host the workshops.  We are now looking forward to our Heritage Open Days on 20th & 21st of June, when local schools and the community are invited to visit Pewsham Locks to experience storytellers in period costumes, traditional music, craft demonstrations and workshops.”

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.”  Click Gazette & Herald (right) to read the article

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IMG 3653 IMG 3672IMG 3635 IMG 3676


Canal & River Trust Visit Wichelstowe
Swindon Branch News
Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
was pleased to welcome
Canal & River Trust
Chief Executive Richard Parry
to Wichelstowe Swindon
on Friday 28th Feb
to find out more about
the restoration plans for the canal.
 RP1-a  RP2b
Kath Hatton , Chris Coyle  and Ken Oliver were pleased to welcome Richard Parry the newly appointed
Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust. 
In weather that we have become all too familiar with this winter we toured the canal at East Wichel
followed by a whistle stop reconnoitre of the route into the town centre.
We hope that this visit will lead to further co-operation with CRT to deliver the Wilts & Berks restoration
as an important part of a new southern canals network.
The Bayberry Public House was our temporary site office for the day as the morning meeting
with Richard was swiftly followed by a meeting with the new Wichelstowe Waitrose manager Simon Adkins.
Waitrose are pleased to have their newest store (opening April) located on the canalside
and are keen to work with WBCT to explore activity on the water.
Chris not only ended the week in Swindon but started there too with further discussions with the branch team
about the new canal and the proposed project to link East Wichel canal to Westleaze
( Wichelstowe Link) at the earliest opportunity. 

Photos Taken


31st January




   Wichelstowe3-1000  Wichelstowe4-1000




Sept11OneSept11Two Sept11OneSept11Two



Heritage Lottery Fund Grant Will Celebrate “Hidden Gem” of Former Waterway
Melksham Calne and Chippenham News
Thursday, 06 February 2014 13:47

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund
Sharing Heritage grant.

Sharing Heritage is a new funding programme to help people across the UK explore, conserve and
share all aspects of the history and character of their local area.

Delivered in partnership with Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, Pewsham Locks: A Centenary
Commemoration project will receive£7,900 to mark one hundred years since the abandonment of the
canal in 1914. The Trust also hopes it will encourage interest in the ongoing restoration campaign.

Events will include a series of fun activities in the museum during the February half-term, culminating in
Open Days at the locks themselves on Friday and Saturday June 20-21. 

Kath Hatton  is the Trust's fundraising director and a member of the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne
branch.She said: "We are delighted by the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and look
forward to encouraging interest in this hidden gem. Many people are aware of the existence of the
canal but few know about the history of the locks, which once lifted narrowboats almost 29 feet on
their journey between Melksham and Chippenham.There was a boat-building and repair business,
saw-pit, carpenter's workshop, lime kiln, dry-dock and a lock-keeper's cottage, the remains of which
can still be seen today.We hope the Open Days will include storytellers in period costumes,
traditional music, craft demonstrations and workshops.Local primary and secondary schools will also
be invited to get involved in role-play activities and challenges.The aim is to encourage people to learn
more about their heritage and understand the significance of the site, and perhaps inspire them to join
the ongoing restoration campaign."

Melissa Barnett, curator of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, said: "This is a fantastic
community-led project that will introduce more people to a largely unsung and unexplored part of our
local heritage with an exciting range of activities and events.Chippenham Museum is delighted to be
supporting the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust with this project and with its long-term plans to protect,
conserve and improve this part of the canal system.”

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 the "This is Wiltshire" article from 10 February 2014

 For further information on the Canal Trust activities, email Kath Hatton 

Dragonfly Boat Crew Night Out
Boat Trips News
Saturday, 01 February 2014 00:00

The Skippers, Crew & Santa of Dragonfly enjoy a Skittles night at The Woodshaw Inn on Saturday 1st February

Skittles 1  Skittles 2  Skittles 3
 Skittles 4  
Skittles 6
 Skittles 5

East Vale Winter Walk Dec 28 Childrey Village Green
East Vale News
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 00:00

EAST VALE Walk off the Christmas Turkey Walk 2013

Christmas 2013_Canal_Walk_1000
I had severe fears about the state of the weather for this walk on the Saturday
after Christmas.  As we experience one trough of low pressure and attendant
rains after another I had a horrible feeling this was going to get cancelled.
On Boxing Day I thought I should check the walk out...and as luck would have
it the sun shined all afternoon ( well until dusk anyway!). Having found out that
the paths were not over squishy ( technical term) I rested easy.
On Friday in my guise of Grove Scout Group Chairman and spouse of the
Grove Silver Beavers leader I joined them for a walk from White Horse Hill
to Waylands Smith. We arrived at the carpark to a howling gale and one
of the , now all to familiar squalls, but shortly after the sun came out and
we had a superb walk out and back.
If you haven't done it then you are missing a treat...and what has this to do with the Wilts & Berks? Stand
either by the picnic table at the car park or for the more adventurous...walk up to the top of the hill and gaze
with wonder at awe at the beauty of the Vale of White Horse. Watch the trains coming up and down the valley
....follow the hedgeline that is the route of the canal around Uffington, and watch the next storm cloud
approaching from the Swindon direction.

Xmas Walk_ac2 

xmas walk_bc

Xmas walk_cc

Start at Childrey

On the top bridleway heading
for East Challow
Standing on the canal bridge
at Cornhill Lane
 Xmas Walk_1c  Xmas Walk_2-1000  unnamed
 On the towpath at West Challow
next to Cornhill Ditch outflow
 Childrey Bridleway bridge at
Childrey/West Challow 
 Childrey Wharf

Saturday came and with it more sunshine. I arrived at Childrey village green to find several people already there
and waiting, so I quickly donned the walking boots and waited for others to join us. Eventually we had 21 hardy
souls and set off through the village. Childrey in the sunshine is gorgeous, full of architectural gems: the thatched
properties, the alms houses, the stable block at the corner of Stow Hill ( modelled in the vale scene at
Pendon Museum). Down Stow Hill past the cress beds and then up the metalled bridleway east towards
East Challow. The path rises and gives a superb view across the eastern vale.

We stopped where the path crosses the West Challow Road. A lovely view back towards the village with the
church prominent on the edge of the hill. In the background the wind turbines at Watchfield slowly turning.
The ridge which the A420 follows clear in the north and further in the background the edge of the Cotwolds.
In the east the cooli
ng towers of Didcot Power Station, to be demolished some time this year. At the bottom of the hill the clear
line of the canal running where the clay meets the greensand.

 In between there and East Challow lies the site of Cornhill Roman Villa...of which nothing reportedly remains.
One of the walkers was Trevor Hancock, a local historian, whose late mother produced various books on local
history. Trevor was able to give us a quick bit of history and our branch secretary Chris reported that his mother
had been involved in a dig with what was then the Wantage Field C;ub in the 1960s.

 Onwards and around East Challow to the canal at Cornhill Lane, where we examined the flat bridge and the
remains of the original stone work for the lift bridge at this site. In one of Doug's books is a superb picture of
people ice skating here with the bridge in the background.

 From there we continued now westwards towards West Challow, stopping at the Cornhill Ditch (where the
water was flowing nicely in and out of the canal) and West Challow bridges to discuss restoration plans.
We are currently in discussions on obtaining a lease over most of the canal through here. At West Challow
we left the public footpath and joined the permissive path along the towpath to Childrey Bridge.

 The temporary bridge is settled in and awaits our new project manager and myself to move forward on the
plans to replace the infill and culvert with a new bridge. From there the public footpath runs across the fields
to Childrey Wharf. Here we detoured slightly along the usually private part of the canal on which we have a
lease to look at the weir, over which the water was flowing very efficiently. The length of canal to Childrey
New Road is looking to my mind very nice at the moment, fully watered. The resident red kite was absent at
the time, but I had seen it on the test walk. Moorhens were dabbling to and fro and it was good to see the
hedgerow we planted coming on nicely.

 From Childrey New Road  it was up the wide verge towards Childrey again and then across the fields to
Childrey church and thence to the start.

 A very enjoyable walk all round and nice to see some of my stalwart walkers again. I now have a email list of
the regulars so that I can advise them when walks are coming up..


Dragonfly at Kingshill Santa Report & Photos
Boat Trips News
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 00:00

Visitors to Dragonfly Santa Specials

The Trust has again run trips on its narrowboat to try to find Santa along the Wilts & Berks Canal at Kingshill Swindon.
The trips were over the 10 weekend days during the end of November and through December, 4 trips per day.
We were fully booked by late November.

photo1000 -1The boat was decorated and our guests enjoyed mulled wine & mince pies for the
squash and sweets for the children. The task was for the children to spot
who then got on board laden with presents for them.
Each child received a named personal present, plus a bag of Magic Reindeer Food. 
255 adults and 214 children joined us.-compared with a total to 351 last year
During the period there were 2 charter trips for groups of small children. Proceeds
were in aid of the Trust 
but more important many children, parents and grandparents
now know about the Canal and the Trust in Swindon.
We would like to thank all of our volunteers who worked so hard in order that
we were able to run 
the large number of Santa Trips. It is difficult to name those
who helped or even the list of tasks they performed 
as someone is bound to be missed out. So many thanks if you
helped and please pass this on 
to anyone who helped you but we were unaware of.
We also wish to thank all those who chose to join us to look for Santa
and hope they will be back next year to see if Santa returns to the Canal at Swindon
Some of the comments we received appear below


We had a fantastic time :) thank you 

photo 2_1000 

Sunday 22


Monday 23


chapman hayes 1c   hayes 2c
 Thanks to
The kids loved
their trip to see
Father Christmas
DSCF6434c DSCF6439c DSCF6443c
All the crew were brilliant, and Santa was fantastic! They really helped make it a special day out. We particularly liked the
little details, mulled wine, tea, sweets, reindeer food, and the fact that the presents had our boy's names on them,
and that they were age appropriate. As a family we've been to lots of other places to see Santa.
(Brunel Shopping Centre, Whitehall Garden Centre etc'), but this is by far the most rewarding and enjoyable of them all. PW


DSCF6426c DSCF6427c DSCF6433c




DSC 9985c DSC 9976c   DSC 9969c


052c 053c 055c
 Just wanted to say a big thank you for today, we all really enjoyed it and the children were so excited to see Father Christmas
who was great with them, as were all the team. Also, the presents were absolutely brilliant! TM 




003c 008c 021c
Thank you for making our daughters very first visit to see Santa so special all 3 of us had a fantastic time. 
We will definitely be back next year. KM


15Santa3 15Santa1




Just a quick email to let you know we had a great time on Sat. Our boy Tom loved the canal boat ride
and enjoyed meeting Santa.The gift bags for each child were fantastic and it was great to receive a gift
that didn't break in the first 5 minutes! Thank you for all of the hard work that went into the booking and gift bags.  D&PR  




 DSC 3149c
DSC 3172c  DSC 3182c 
We had a wonderful time, thank you all very much and especially the lovely lady who got up and encouraged us
all to sing, the atmosphere was lovely and christmasy. All the children loved seeing Father Chritmas and
Both dads loved seeing Father Christmas too!! ( shown in one of the pictures) SM


 image 2c
image 4c




Santa specials7b

Santa specials_8-1000

Santa specials12b
Just a short note to say how much we enjoyed our Christmas cruise yesterday.
 The crew and Santa were absolutely fantastic with the children
(and the lovely Santa was very conscious that some children
on board were not so sure about Santa!).  
We all really enjoyed ourselves and learning more about the canal and the
work going on and now we can't wait to book onto a cruise to Wichelstow!
Please do let me know when the 2014 christmas cruise
becomes available so we can book on again!  AP

Swindon Adveritiser1200
Swindon Advertiser Dec 9 2013







 We kicked off Christmas yesterday with a lovely Santa Trip on the Dragonfly! The kids absolutely loved it!
We couldn't believe that we were still in Swindon and all 10 minutes from my house.
Would highly recommend it to all those with children, even without Santa and the fantastic bag of presents
it was lovely to appreciate the canal that is right on our doorstep. I'm sure the ticket price didn't even
cover the mince pies, chocolate and mulled wine!! Book up!!!  DD on Facebook





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