1904: Petition against Closure

From the Western Daily Press, Friday, 5th February 1904
The Wilts and Berks Canal.

The following is a copy of  a petition which has been forwarded by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce to Mr. C. E. Hobhouse, M.P., for presentation:-

“In Parliament, Session 1904.

“To the Honourable the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.

“The humble petition of the Bristol Incorporated Chamber of Commerce and Shipping

“Showeth that the attention of your petitioners has been directed to the Omnibus Bill of the borough of Swindon now before your honourable House, which provides, inter alia, that the Corporation of that borough and the Wilts and Berks Canal Company may enter into and carry into effect agreements with respect to the transfer to and vesting in the Corporation of so much of the property of the Canal Company as is situate within the borough and the Coate reservoir and the feeders thereof, shall be conveyed by the Canal Company to the Corporation, and may be applied to such purposes as dealt with as the Corporation think fit.

“That your petitioners believe that if such powers are granted to the borough of Swindon, the result will be the permanent closing of the canal to navigation; and submit that the powers of such far-reaching consequences should not be asked for in an Omnibus Bill, such as the borough of Swindon is promoting, but should be matter for special legislation.

“That your petitioners are aware that the canal in question is not worked for navigation at present, but they hope and believe that arrangements may be effected by which the water traffic will be renewed.

“That your petitioners, in conjunction with the Association of Chambers of Commerce, have for many years persistently advocated the extension and development of the existing inland waterways of the United Kingdom, and have, with this object in view, promoted in Parliament a bill for the purpose of extending the powers conferred upon the Board of Trade with regard to derelict canals under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888, to existing canals, and to authorise the formation of public canal trusts; to enable local authorities to take over the management of existing canals, and to subscribe to the expenses of formation or promotion of public canal trusts; to enable canal companies to dispose of their undertakings to public canal trusts, and to extend the powers of local authorities with regard to these matters in Scotland and Ireland.

“Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the objectionable clause herein referred to will be deleted from the Omnibus Bill, so that the canal may be retained, if not for navigation, at all events for a water supply in the vicinity through which the canal runs,as the closing of this waterway would prove a serious detriment to the trade and welfare of the district.

(Signed) “W. MANDEVILLE EDWARDS, President.
“HENRY J. SPEAR, Secretary.
“Bristol, February 5th 1904.”