Branches Swindon

Calne Easter Bunny Hunt - Saturday 19th April at 12pm || Dragonfly Trips from Kingshill, Sunday 20th April at 12pm and Easter Monday from 10.30am || Opening of Sackhouse Wantage Wharf, Saturday 26th April at 3pm

Swindon Branch News
Tree Planting work by AFL improves Canal
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

Canal & River Trust Visit Wichelstowe
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



Help needed at Mouldon Hill with the environmental improvement tasks.
Monday, 09 September 2013 12:18
IMG 0049The next major project in the Swindon Area will be completion of the restoration of the canal by Mouldon Hill Country Park. Over a two year period we will clean out the canal, repair the leaks and restore the lock to working condition. We will be doing the work with volunteers and particularly need more people to help with the environmental improvement tasks.
great crested_newts_3We have completed the environmental surveys.  Before we start restoration we have to trap and relocate the great crested newts (a European protected species) to new ponds nearby. We plan to start work early in 2014 but first we have to get a licence from Natural England in which we will name the leaders for the relocation and the maintenance of the new ponds.
IMG 0046We need people to help monitor the newt fencing, trap and translocate the newts, plant the new ponds and maintain them until well-established with conditions suited to newts for breeding.
If you would like to help with these tasks, or can suggest people or organisations that can help, or want more information on the project please contact the project manager Rod Hacker at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or 01793 347715.


Volunteers on Swindon & Shrivenham work parties
Thursday, 08 August 2013 14:58

Volunteers1cThe Trust is grateful to the Swindon Advertiser for the article about Company volunteers in the Thursday 8th August edition. This summer staff from the Wyvern Theatre Swindon have been helping the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust reopen the canal route and providing wildlife habitat, cycle ways and routes for walkers on the restored towpath

From this Advertiser article the Wyvern Theatre have received a phone call from JACKfm (Local Radio) asking to talk to the Wyvern group about their experiances and to encourage other groups to do the same.

 The Wyvern Theatre group is just one of the very many local groups who have attended work parties in Swindon  and Shrivenham. During this current week the Trust has had 4 teams of volunteers from local companies working on the towpath.  Over the last 2 months there has been in excess of 200 man-hours of work.


 Volunteers2b wyvern006-1000 wyvern002-1000

Above article from 

Swindon Advertiser 

Thursday August 8 2013

See also West Vale Branch

wyvern023-1000 wyvern020-1000
Another Historic Bridge saved for re-use on the Wilts & Berks
Friday, 26 July 2013 07:45

A bridge estimated  to be well over 100 years old has been saved from the scrap yard and will be used as part of the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal at Mouldon Hill Swindon



Originally located at a waterworks on
the New River in North London
the Trust  took the opportunity
when it was offered for sale by
River & Canal Services.
Working with the company and Cousens
Transport, the bridge was moved by road
from Surrey to be stored at the
Canal & River Trust facility 
at Caen Hill Devizes.
IMAG0428-1000 IMAG0429-1000
Plans are being progressed for a
major project at Mouldon Hill next year  
and subject to planning consent
the bridge will be used as a pedestrian
and cycle crossing of the canal near
the River Ray aqueduct.


Bank Piling at West Leaze
Tuesday, 11 June 2013 06:25

Piling at West LeazePiling at west LeaseThe Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is carrying out important repair work at West Leaze.  The purpose of this work is to stabilize the towpath and the bank; without these repairs, the bank would continue to erode, with consequent risks to the safety of the footpath.  This work involves piling for a length of about 120 metres. 

The work has been closely supervised by a consultant ecologist as the area supports an active population of water voles. We are also being very careful to work with Thames Water and other providers of services to ensure there is no risk to these services.

We expect our contractors to be finishing on about the 21st June, but that of course depends on them encountering no unforeseen surprises.  They have told us that they will not be working at the weekend, and normally they expect to finish by about 6 o'clock in the afternoon.  After the contractors have completed the piling, there may well be work that the Trust will have to carry out to finish off the site, probably including using ‘soft edge’ coir rolls for bank protection.

The Trust is conscious of the disruption caused, first by having to close the towpath, and secondly by the piling itself.  We ask you to bear with us while we carry out this essential maintenance.  If you can avoid the area of the works, that will help us to complete the work in the shortest possible time.

Chris Coyle

Swindon Heritage Board seeks views on its proposed strategy.
Friday, 01 March 2013 19:36

The Canal Trust is  concerned that canal  has been ignored in the draft document

Details about the new proposed Swindon Heritage strategy can be found by following this link

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust  is concerned that  the proposed strategy does not feature the canal  in the list of priorities.

Please register your concerns  so that the Wilts & Berks  and North Wilts Canal, so much part of life  in Swindon  for a century, can be restored  for future generations.

The direct link to the survey is

Swindon 'Masterplan Consultation Responses
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 00:00

Swindon MasterPlan Consultation Responses Published

22nd December 2012    Forward Swindon have published a summary of the responses to the recent consultation  on the proposed MasterPlan for Swindon Town Centre .A large number of responses indicated that  they supported inclusion of the canal in the MasterPlan. Forward Swindon are now considering  what changes may be made .You can read the summary of responses by clicking  here


MustnotSinkSwindonAdver2NovSwindon Advertiser 2 November 2012


Canal group fears opportunity could be lost



Chris Coyle  (Company Secretary WBCT) letter to Forward Swindon Limited                                                                   

Dear Sirs

29th October 2012


The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust notes with disappointment the response of Forward Swindon as reported in the Swindon Advertiser.

The Trust, which is an award-winning charity, comments that of course the residents of Swindon are going to be 'generally positive' about the proposals.  Everyone has known for years that Swindon needs a major shake-up, so anything is going to be welcomed as a step forward.  If that is the best that can be said about the reaction, then Forward Swindon has failed to come up with anything inspiring or to catch the public imagination.

Forward Swindon also gives a very misleading impression about the strength of the feeling in support of the canal, as expressed in the consultation.  Saying that 'we have had comments regarding the canal not being shown as a through route'  grossly understates the number and weight of the very positive support for the canal in the responses to the consultation.  The supporters include the Wiltshire Swindon and Oxfordshire Canal Partnership, representing every local authority along the line, major national sporting and leisure associations such as Sustrans and Canoe England, the Environment Agency and Natural England, as well as other organisations.  Support has also been given by Oxfordshire County Council, which urges Swindon to adopt the through route.  The national Inland Waterways Association, representing tens of thousands of those interested in the development of a national asset, has given its support.  Neighbouring canal societies including the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and the Cotswold Canals Trust have equally urged for a through route.  And very importantly the businesses of Swindon, as represented by the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, are lending their strong support.  There have also been well over a hundred individual expressions of support.  Are you listening Forward Swindon?

Saying that the canal will remain 'a protected route' and can therefore be restored in the future is disingenuous.  Of course it can, in theory, but Forward Swindon knows as well as the Trust does that if the centre of Swindon goes through a massive redevelopment, no-one will be inclined to undertake another large exercise a few years later.

Forward Swindon cites cost as an obstacle.  The Trust has provided independent evidence that the benefits far outweigh the costs, but this has been ignored and not even mentioned.

Forward Swindon says that the canal is not deliverable 'throughout its whole length' within the plan's timescale'.  Who says?  No-one from Forward Swindon has ever asked the Trust about this. Indeed, Forward Swindon has not taken up suggestions from the Trust and the Partnership to carry out a full assessment of the costs and benefits of the project, and the timescales.  It might not be possible to reopen the whole 60 mile length; but it is certainly possible to open the section through Swindon, and connect to the national network, within that time.

Forward Swindon says that the focus of the masterplan is economic growth.  Why then are they ignoring a major driver of economic growth, estimated to be worth £10 million a year to Swindon?

The Trust asks Forward Swindon to do the following: 

  • Make the 'processing' of the consultation responses an open and transparent process, and publish the results.
  • Acknowledge the strength of the support for the canal.
  • Engage with the Trust in a full and objective assessment of the costs and benefits of the proposal.

Perhaps it is time to remind Forward Swindon that its purpose and objective is to deliver what Swindon wants, not to frustrate it.  Swindon wants the canal, as expressed in official Swindon Borough planning policy and strategy.  Swindon business wants it.  National sporting and leisure bodies want it.  Oxfordshire and Wiltshire Councils want it.  The people of Swindon want it.  Time to start work on delivering it.

Yours faithfully



MasterPlanSwinAdverOct28Ian Piper talks to the Swindon Advertiser


"We had a lot of comments regarding the canal and the fact that the whole length of it isn't shown on the plan....But it's still the protected route in the current documents and the canal route is still referred to in the draft local plan that will be coming out to consultation again soon" Swindon Advertiser 28th Oct 2012




 An award-winning charity is urging planners to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the regeneration of Swindon town centre.



The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust believes the current vision is "missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to maximise the impact of a restored waterway. Forward Swindon is consulting on a masterplan which would include bringing the canal back into the town through North Star as far as a basin adjacent to Station Road – crucially, it omits linking this section to the restored canal at Westleaze.

The Trust believes the scheme should be more ambitious and extend the restoration through the entire town so that more residents and businesses can enjoy the benefits of a new wildlife corridor which would attract tourism and employment. The charity, which recently received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, is now urging local people to take part in the consultation.


Canal Trust spokesman Chris Coyle said:

"We really do appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in preparing the current plans, but they run the risk of missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the most of this wonderful waterway. Estimates suggest the Swindon economy could benefit from an additional £10million per year if the Wilts & Berks was brought back to life, as well as increased leisure opportunities and improved access to the countryside.  The current plan to only bring the canal as far as Station Road means many parts of the town might miss out on these tremendous benefits. We are urging all of our 2,300 members to rally together and make their views known, and we hope other people will join our campaign too."

Chris added:

"The social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits of a restored waterway have already been demonstrated across the UK, where towns have seen the creation of new wildlife habitats and the establishment of canalside cafes and bars and other facilities. We are as keen as everyone else to see Swindon transformed and new jobs created, but we must look at the bigger picture. The reluctance to engage with this exciting project seems to revolve around concerns about the cost of the canal without looking at the benefit. Integrating a waterway into the regeneration will be a fraction of the cost of the scheme but will contribute a significant proportion of the additional economic benefit. We only have one chance to get this right. Every voice will count."

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