The Aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
To protect, conserve and improve the route of the Wilts & Berks and North Wilts Canals, and branches, for the benefit of the community and environment, with the ultimate goal of restoring a continuous navigable waterway linking the Kennet & Avon canal near Melksham, the River Thames near Abingdon, and the Thames & Severn canal near Cricklade.
Background to the Trust
The Trust was originally called the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group and was formed in 1977. The Trust's current membership stands at more than 2000 people and businesses.
A county boundary change in 1974 transferred the eastern section of the canal from Berkshire to Oxfordshire.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is a member of the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership which consists of all the Local Authorities on the route, British Waterways, Environment Agency , and other key stakeholders.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is a registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.
The affairs of the Trust are governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association
The Objectives of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
- Convince local authorities, government departments and local organisations of the benefits and feasibility of the proposed restoration.
- Convince landowners, local commerce and the general public of the merits of the restoration.
- Secure the route of the waterway and adequate water supplies.
- Establish the Trust as a key member of a partnership with local authorities and other bodies that will facilitate restoration of the canal.
- Implement an agreed programme for full restoration of the canal.
The Trust is run by an elected Council of Management
The Trust employs an Administrator and Accounts Assistant.
The Trust volunteers have campaigned and made possible the project that is today restoring the Wilts & Berks Canal for all to enjoy. Many have worked hard since the organisation was founded in 1977 and the Trust acknowledges the work of some its key members in our Roll of Honour.
Membership of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is open to all.
The Wilts and Berks Canal Partnership is pleased to be twinned with the Nantes a Brest canal. Further information can be found on the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership website
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
Dr David Fletcher M.B.E
Our Vice Presidents
Neil Rumbol (founder member)
The challenge of restoring the Wilts & Berks Canal is that it has been abandoned for nearly 100 years. The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, and its predecessor the Amenity Group, have re-discovered the canal and its structures and have set about the task of full restoration. Considering the passage of time, it is surprising that much of the rural part of the canal still exists. With a moderate amount of clearance it can, and is being brought back to its original standard. Ownership of the canal passed to adjacent landowners when the canal was abandoned. The Trust has bought and leased some sections and aims to complete this process for the 60miles of the canal as a priority . The Trust always wishes to promote a good relationship with the current owners and therefore would ask anyone wishing to explore the canal line, to check that there are public rights of access. When restored the Trust aims to have maximum accessibility for all on the towpath.
The structures are a bigger challenge as, where the exist, they are mostly derelict. Major road crossing are likely to be the most expensive part of restoration. Parts of the route have been built on in the Cricklade, Melksham, Abingdon and Swindon and alternatives to the historic line have been planned in these locations.
The Trust is a member of a the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership which embraces all the Local Authorities along the route, Statutory Authorities and other interested organisations who work in partnership to achieve the goal of full restoration.
Plans for Full Restoration by 2025
The Trust intends to have a major part of the canal restored by 2020, with full restoration by 2025. The strategy agreed with Partners is to complete significant sections of the restoration as 'stand alone' parts of the waterway. The Partnership further aims to initially complete the towpath walk followed by restoration of the canal and its structures.
The Partnership in conjunction with the Trust has prioritised the plan to re-connect the canal to the national network. Four Flagship schemes are being put in action at the junctions
- Semington (Kennet and Avon Canal) planned 2015-18
- Abingdon (River Thames) - Junction completed 2006; further progress planned
- Cricklade - Eisey new Junction (Thames and Severn Canal)
- Swindon (Main line with North Wilts) new canal constructed as part of Wichelstowe development. Plan is to join this section to the existing section at Kingshill
Planned major schemes:
- The Melksham Link
- Pewsham Locks
- Daunstey to Seven Locks
- Royal Wootton Bassett extension at Templars Firs
- Studley Grange (Biffa landfill site)
- Swindon Town Centre
- Canal connection Wichelstowe to East Wichel
- Cricklade Country Way (North Wilts Canal Mouldon Hill to Cricklade)
- Grove Top Lock to Bottom Lock
- Extension westwards from Jubilee Junction
Data Protection Act
The Trust membership details are recorded in compliance with provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998