Sunday, 28 February 2016

Funding, Events, Community Involvement

Peterborough Arms
Kath Hatton remains extremely busy applying for funding for the refurbishment of the Peterborough Arms… not to mention all the other Trust projects! 
Dauntsey Parish Council, Lyneham and Bradenstoke Parish Council and Malmesbury Area Board have agreed grants and donations for this project and we are very grateful for their support. 
You will have seen from the recent Press release that the first stage opening is close now, and various summer events are in the process of being planned to make good use of this great resource.

Summer Events and Shows
Talking of summer events, the season is coming up fast now when our volunteers attend many events throughout our area, to publicize the work of the Trust and to attract new members. If you can help in this very important work, even if only for a few hours, please get in touch with your Branch Chairman or myself. It really does make a difference… and it’s good fun as well.
Branch Chairs: if you need publicity material, more merchandising items and general help, please get in touch with me:

Dragonfly Magazine
Editor John Millican has reminded us all that the copy deadline for the next edition is 1st March: so last call for anyone who wants something included in this edition.

Widening Our Appeal
I had an excellent meeting last week with Kate Jones who has been working on the Studley Grange Towpath project with various community groups and schools. We want this work to be developed into a Trust wide initiative to attract younger members and families to the canal and to the Trust. So watch this space as we develop our ideas and ask for your help and input.
One recent example of attracting younger members and families were the three days of children’s activities organised by the MCC Branch, at the excellent Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre during February Half Term. This third year of the event attracted about 130 children with their parents/carers. They made miniature bricks, printed t-shirts, made decorated plates and used the excellent Canal & Rivers Trust WOW activities. There was even a visit from Frankie, the honorary canal horse. See the Wilts & Berks Canal Friends and Volunteers and Chippenham Museum’s Facebook pages for photos.
WBCT Extraordinary General Meeting
Trust members are reminded that an EGM will be held at Ellendune Community Centre, Barrett Way, Wroughton, Swindon SN4 9LW on March 5th starting at 2.00 pm. Full details are on the Trust’s web site. Your newly appointed Executive Directors will be there and would be pleased to meet with as many members as possible.
Sheila Wade
PR Communication and IT Director  


Thursday, 25 February 2016

New Planning Application, work at the Peterborough Arms and help from WRG

New Planning Application
A planning application was submitted last week for Naish Hill, just south of Pewsham. This covers both the construction of a new spillweir with associated discharge into the River Avon and raising the level of the towpath in this section.  There has been some problem for several winters in this area with overtopping. A number of shallow mitigation ponds for great crested newts and other amphibians will be put in. The project will be volunteer led and hopefully will be carried out later this year, provided all permissions and funding are in place.

The Peterborough Arms
Work is being carried out at the Peterborough Arms at the moment on the new Fire Alarm system. Other projects are being planned as part of the effort to open the Community Space at the pub for use by local clubs and groups this summer, such as the new disabled access toilet, repairs to the floor, redecoration.  We have received a generous cheque of £1000 from Lyneham and Bradenstoke Parish Council towards these works. 

WRG at Chippenham
Volunteers from the Waterways Recovery Group (WRG) spent the weekend at Chippenham working on the stretch of canal north of the A4 that we have leased from Bowood Estates. The local Melksham, Calne & Chippenham branch volunteers have been clearing this very overgrown section of the canal for the past three winters, following a Habitat Management Plan. This has meant that the clearance has been more sympathetic to any wildlife on site, taking out different sizes of scrubs and small trees in succession that were blocking the canal track and towpath, hence always leaving some habitat. Some of the hedges have been laid and gaps filled with new whips and logs piled up on the off side for more habitat. Volunteers also came from Foxham/Lyneham branch and as a consequence there was a large group of about 25 people who managed to do a lot of logging and scrub clearing.  I am told it looks like a real canal now!

Kath Hatton

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Plans and funding

Vale of White Horse District Council Local Plan Enquiry

I attended the Public Enquiry on Wednesday where on behalf of the Canal Partnership I answered questions from the Inspector regarding the submission made to re-instate in Part 1 of the Local Plan a policy to protect the route of the Wilts & Berks from other development. (The Local Authority is proposing to temporally ‘save’ the existing protection policy while asking for further evidence to be submitted for Part 2 of the Plan). The Inspector will now assess the submission and make his recommendations as part of his report. 


Kath & I have been working on a funding programme as part of the Canal & River Trust’s Dreamfund Heritage Heroes application to Peoples Postcode Lottery . You may have seen that CRT were successful in obtaining  a £1/2m grant from PPL which will be shared by a number of restoration projects. The Wilts & Berks part of the scheme is restoration of top lock at Pewsham and working with partners Help for Heroes details of the project are now being worked out. There will be a full public announcement about the scheme in a few weeks time 

Dragonfly Magazine

Editor John Millican reminds all contributors that the copy deadline for the next edition is March 1st. 

WBCT Extraordinary General Meeting

Trust members are reminded that an EGM will be held at Ellendune Community Centre, Barrett Way, Wroughton, Swindon SN4 9LW on March 5th at 2.00 pm. Full details are on the Trust’ web site

 300 Club

Last call for the 300 club- first draw at the EGM.  Application forms are available here.


Ken Oliver  


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Some housekeeping and an appeal for your support

Before the spring arrives and the weather outdoors becomes a little more enticing I’m getting on with some housekeeping.

Last year Chris Coyle and our Chairman, Rod Bluh visited the Branches to explain our re-organisation plans. I was invited in autumn last year to become CEO and since then I have put together a new organisation structure – aiming to get us readier than ever to press on with the canal restoration – and invited applications for positions on the new Executive Committee to be submitted by 31st January. Working with Rod Bluh and Colin Fletcher I am almost ready to make my choice, which would then be ratified by the Board of Trustees at its meeting this week.
The reorganisation will be presented to members at our EGM on 5th March less than a month away now.
Our website and IT infrastructure
One of my ongoing tasks is to rebuild our website. Without losing the huge archive of material that is on the current site my aim is to update the IT infrastructure that is the motor of the site, to modernise the look of the site and to broaden the appeal of the site to talk to our funders and sponsors, and also to landowners along the length of the canal whose goodwill we rely on to make the restoration possible.
Our plans include an exclusive area on the site where members will have access to a wealth of archive material and where – in time – they could update their personal records, and manage membership fee payments and donations to the Trust. All things to come. Please let us have your thoughts on what you would like from the new website.
Peterborough Arms
 As Chris and Kath have mentioned in previous blogs the Peterborough Arms (or should I speak rather of the Dauntsey Lock Canal Centre!?)  is a firm priority. We are pushing ahead to get basic repair work completed so that we can get a part of the building open and used more fully by the spring. I too share the dream of a thriving canal centre being developed around the pub and want us to move on to progress building works further just as soon as we can raise the funds to do so.
A gentle reminder to support the making  of the 300 Club
 We set ourselves the target of turning the 200 Club into a 300 Club this year. We’re almost there being only 20 applications short of the 300 mark. Maybe in the few days left until the deadline of 17th February there will be enough new supporters to get us there. Not only can you support the work of our Branches by raising money for equipment and other needs, but you can win prizes too. Until now about £9,400 has been given way in prize money.
Application forms are available here. Or read more about the Club on our website where you can also see a list of prize winners.

Finally if you have a look at this month's Canal Boat magazine you  will see John Lavericks's answers to 20 Waterway Questions

Jonathan Till  


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

News of funding success and plans for opening the Peterborough Arms

We are pleased to offer our congratulations to Canal and River Trust on being awarded £500,000 by the People’s Postcode Lottery ‘Dream Fund’.  Together with Help for Heroes CRT were delighted to receive the £500,000 award for their ‘Heritage Heroes’ project at a gala awards ceremony held on 28th January in Edinburgh.

CRT has joined up with ’Help for Heroes’ for the first time with an ambitious plan to change the lives of ex-servicemen and women through a programme of canal restoration, transforming waterways across England in the process.

The project will train ex-servicemen or women with an accredited qualification as they recruit volunteers to help transform the waterways.  Around 200,000 local people will be involved through events, walks, education programmes and other activities.

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this ambitious project has been chosen for People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund.  Working with veterans who have done so much to serve their nation, and with local volunteer groups, we will be restoring and renewing canals for the people and communities around them.

“The project will teach the ex-servicemen skills in land-based management and construction. Inspiring and working with volunteers they will be rebuilding locks, restoring canal-side hedgerows, making repairs to canal heritage and getting thousands of local people to connect with their local waterway.”

Its hoped that the Wilts & Berks will benefit as part of the Heritage Heroes but  we are not yet clear what it will mean for the scope of our proposed project. We will keep you posted.

We have received from IWA £366; this is the Wilts & Berks Canal’s share of the IWA annual draw monies.  We have put this amount into the Studley Grange appeal fund that has now reached £18,208.  It is creeping towards the target of £25K any more contributions would be welcome..

As Kath mentioned last week, there was a meeting to discuss next steps on the Peterborough Arms.  We have all been frustrated by the impediments (mainly money!) to making progress in our plans and we have decided that as a first step we will do the essential to re-open parts of the pub as a Community and events room in Summer 2016.  This in itself will require quite a lot of work, and we are being careful to make sure that everything we do will fit with the longer term refurbishments. 

Chris  Coyle