Projects where you can help restore the Wilts & Berks Canal
Access to Work Sites:
The aim of the Trust is to allow public access to the restored canal. At present much of the canal is still privately owned and although the Trust will have an agreement to work on the sites shown here, if you are visiting one of these sites you must use a route that has a public right of way.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust does not encourage or condone trespass onto privately owned land.
Listed below are the sites where you will be able to volunteer to help with the re-construction.
Further information about all the Trust Work Parties and other restoration projects can be obtained from Work Parties Director Rachael Banyard (Tel. 01249 892289) or the Trust Office (Tel 0845 226 8567)
To the east of Station Road Arch Bridge, adjacent to the canal, is an electricity sub-station. When it was built, the ground level was raised such that the towpath alongside was narrowed and displaced into the canal channel. Additionally, there is a very steep and often muddy climb from this towpath up to the level of the road (the towpath did not pass under this bridge as here it changed from the south side of the canal to the north). For some time, the Branch had considered how it could improve this section of towpath and so enable the canal to be dredged to full width.
In early 2013 SSE dastically reduced the hedge that bordered their compound, so the Branch decided that it would take this opportunity to move the towpath up to the level of the sub-station fence. This required the removal of the remaining hedge stumps and raising the ground level adjacent to Station Road and alongside the sub-station with many tons of subsoil. Our small mid-week work-party laboured long and hard, in summer heat and autumn rains, for with restricted space and a steep bank, most of this work had to be done manually.
It is still work-in-progress, the original path cannot be closed until the edge of the new path is complete and the surface levelled. So offers of help (usually on Wednesdays) would be most welcome. See work-parties for contact information.
Although this lies close to the village of West Challow it is important to point out that the canal at this point lies within the parish of Childrey. Bridleway No 7 goes between the two villages and is well used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists. The path crossed the canal by way of a bridge but until recently we were not entirely certain as to what type of bridge was there originally. Brickwork is visible indicating a structure 16'6" square and having done limited investigative work appears to be in reasonable order. At the Uffington Show we were approached by someone who lived in West Challow as a child and walked to school in Childrey every day. He remembered that it was a flat plank bridge ( which in turn had replaced the original lift bridge) until being demolished in 1948. Incidentally at that time the next lift bridge to the west only a few hundred yards away was still in situ.
Several years ago we had the opportunity to purchase a ready-built 40' long and 10'wide bridleway bridge previously used for that purpose in Wiltshire. It is currently in storage a few miles away. The plan is to move it to adjacent to the bridleway and then once further design work has been completed on restoring a flat bridge for the bridleway apply for all the necessary permissions, and then divert the bridleway temporarily whilst the new bridge is built. Obviously until permissions were in place the temporary bridge would not be open to the public, but we would invite locals users ( especially the horse owners) to inspect it in situ.
Once the new bridge is complete then the diversion will end and the temporary bridge will be used elsewhere on the canal. We should then be able to connect properly the two isolated stretches of canal and re-connect the towpath.
Planning Permission has been granted for the erection of the temporary bridge and we now await availability for the moving of the bridge into place. Meanwhile work continues on the design of the new bridleway bridge to replace the infill and I hope to report further in the Spring on progress.
In August 2012 the temporary bridge was finally craned into position. Since then the team have spent their time replacing the timber decking and the timber railings, prior to work on the field corners either side to enable the diversion of the bridleway. We have engineering drawings for the proposed new bridge which will be used in the planning application.
The public footpath along from East Challow finishes at Silver Lane West Challow resuming a westerly route from near the village hall to cross the fields back to the canal near Childrey Wharf. However by courtesy of the landowners and with a grant from N-Power we have been able to create a permissive path from Silver Lane (i.e. the site of the canal bridge) along the tow path to the Childrey/West Challow Bridleway Bridge. (See separate article re the planned restoration of this bridge). Replacement fencing has been installed along the north side including behind the village cemetary. I am delighted to announce that the seat has now put into place overlooking the canal behind the cemetary.
In due course we will dredge through from Silver Lane to create a longer stretch of water, however, this will take time as in order to protect the wildlife it will have to be done gradually. We will also need to lower the siphon carrying the Childrey Brook under the canal (obviously with the necessary permissions) and without affecting adversely the water flow.
Interestingly enough Childrey Brook and the village road past the Church would appear to form the parish boundary and therefore despite is being nearer West Challow most of the canal is actually within Childrey Parish.
As a permissive rather than public footpath we will be closing it for at least one day a year to preserve the owners rights.
In 2006 the Trust undertook the first project to link the canal back to the national waterways network.
The name of Jubilee Junction reflects the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Inland Waterways Association. Considerable matched funding for the project was given by WREN and the Trust volunteers were augmented by the Waterway Recovery Group.
This section lies to the north of Childrey village and is partly accessible by public footpath Our extremely co-operative landowners here have given us a lease over this length of canal and we have been working over the last few years to put in suitable field drainage to enable re-watering of the canal. The length includes the wharf, partially restored in 2005 where you can find an information board and living willow seat. The section of the canal lies not far away from the site of Childrey Brickyards.
Completion of this section was the Branch's main activity for 2010. Over the Summer the team worked hard to build from scratch our new weir to control the water level of the canal, fed as it is by field drainage from the west. This was completed in time for the Autumn AGM and received very favourable comments. It does not lie on the public access part of the canal here however if you wish to take a look please contact one of the branch contacts.
During 2010 further hedgerow was planted as we put in a new fence along the towpath field boundary. I am delighted to say that our first Kingfisher was spotted as well.
The Monday Mob, our weekday workparty team have a programme of regular maintenance visits and in addition 2011 should see the erection of a handy seat for walkers to rest on and an information board close to the Childrey New Road is also planned, funding permitting.
September 2010. The end of the Childrey Wharf section..