Friday, 20 November 2015

Many unknowns -working on the answers!

I think it is fair to say that we have now got to the really difficult stage of the Studley  Grange project! Winter weather has set in and the work is not yet complete. A number of options are being examined to see if any further progress can be made . It is particularly frustrating with probably only a week’s worth of excavation remaining and financial and external pressure to complete

Next week the WBCT team are attending Wanborough Parish Council meeting to outline the work being carried on the canal design as part of Swindon’s Eastern Villages development.

A new section of the canal line has become available  for potential purchase north of Melksham. It is not a straightforward sale and apart from the obvious  finance required  a number of other issues are being closely considered before any progress can be made.
Don't forget you can always donate to the 'land fund' from which purchases like this are made.
The question of office accommodation and location  for the Trust is also being considered in relation to current reorganisation and other factors.

Finally the Melksham Link project team led by Paul Lenaerts  are making final reviews of plans  and reports for the planning application. The current estimate is that this additional information which includes the long awaited  and lengthy Environment Statement will be submitted to Wiltshire Council in a few weeks time

Ken Oliver

Friday, 13 November 2015

Boat trips back to normal route and winter weather approaches

The boat team is pleased to advise that Skew Bridge is now passable again, after the necessary maintenance work by Swindon Borough Council.  The scaffolding has all been removed and the canal is clear.  Robert Yeowell has done the full trip, and went under the bridge in both directions without a problem.  However we are going to treat navigation of the bridge with some caution just in case the contractors have left something nasty below the surface. And in addition Robert had no passengers on board and the water level was up for the trial run.

All in all, however, great news as Santa Trips are getting closer.  Bookings are well up, so if you want to treat children or grandchildren, contact the boat team on

Our contractors continue to make progress at Studley Grange, although the recent downpours have caused some slippage in the bank at one point, which will have to be sorted out.  And of course, the heavy rain makes work on excavating the main channel impossible, so inevitably delays are occurring.  On the other hand, that has meant that they have been able pretty much to complete putting in the gabions needed to strengthen the bank in some places.

Chris Coyle

Thursday, 5 November 2015

November News

Keep a look out for the December edition of Waterways World. Andrew Denny, Assistant Editor at the magazine came down last month for a couple of days to have a look around at our current projects. The end result will be a four page feature on the Wilts & Berks Canal.

Speaking of publicity, Justin Guy, our local PR volunteer, has written a piece with Val Melville about the Living Waterways Awards and it has appeared on the Index Wiltshire and Flic Wiltshire websites. Thank you, Justin – great work. In addition, Business Voice, the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce magazine, has featured the canal under their Charity Spotlight section with an article under the banner “Wilts & Berks Canal restoration picks up momentum”.

Autumn has really arrived!  Amazing colours in the trees and hedgerows along the canal, misty mornings and shortening days. Opportunities for taking some photos – we are always looking for good ones for the calendar each year. You can order the 2016 Trust calendar from Diana – as well as Christmas Cards.

I will be able to send out all the cheques for the winners for the Restoration Draw this week. I would like to thank everyone for their support in purchasing tickets and for those extra donations that some people added to their cheques. We made around £3000 profit which will go to several different projects along the line.   

420 young trees (whips) arrived here today for Studley Grange courtesy of the Woodland Trust. I see that they were actually funded by Sainsbury’s, Yorkshire Tea and the People’s Postcode Lottery so many thanks to all the funders.  I must say they were very well packed. They are now standing out to catch tomorrow’s rain and we hope will be planted by local Scout and Cub groups and many other volunteers  from Royal Wootton Bassett in a few weeks time.

Fundraising is underway for Top Lock Pewsham. This will be a volunteer-led project. The MCC brick-laying team that did some sterling work on that Cocklemore Brook culvert is keen to get on to the next project and we are hoping that we can find the funds to start next Spring. 

Kath Hatton