It is traditional at this time of year to have a quick review of the past 12 months and once again it has been a busy year on the canal.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust decided to mark the centenary of the passing of the Act of Abandonment with a public event to demonstrate how the work of restoration is bringing the waterway back to life. In many ways the Melksham River Festival exceeded expectations, and on a sunny weekend in September gave the local community a feel of how the town will be changed when the Melksham Link is completed.
WBCT now owns a canal side pub, the Peterborough Arms, thanks to the passion and generosity of Trust members. This certainly saved a prime site from being turned into a private residence.
Two planning consents were granted, at Pewsham Locks and Studley Grange, allowing the projects to progress.
Waitrose opened their new store alongside the canal at Wichelstowe, and we are applying for permission to build a new landing stage right outside so that our trips can start from there.
We are hopeful that the new year will see the start the next phase of Swindon Borough Council’s Wichelstowe development, and tied in to that will be our plans to link the exisiting canal stretches at Kingshill and East Wichel.
The Dragonfly boat team had their busiest year yet.
Successful funding bids for £50k from People’s Millions (Studley Wildlife Trail) adding to the funding already secured (approx £160k) from Underwood Trust and £4k from the Inland Waterways Association.
The winter storms caused a culvert at Pewsham to collapse under the pressure of the storm water. The team have been quick to get the complete rebuild started and securing £10k from the Yorkshire Building Society’s Lasting Legacy Fund will see the work completed (weather permitting) in the near future.
Appointment of MasterPlanning advisor – work started on Melksham and Swindon business plans and securing of £40k commercial sponsorship.
None of this could happen without the hard work of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust volunteer team – so thank you to everyone for your continuing contribution.
So what of 2015? – even more progress in prospect - some likely candidates:
-Top Lock -volunteer led rebuild starts leading to next phase of a rebuilt cottage as a canal side café
-canal link project agreed
Swindon Town Centre business plan
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – the blog team are off for a short break - so we will update you next on January 12th