Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
The monthly newsletter of the
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust


Welcome to the October 2020 edition of On The Button

Why is our newsletter called "On The Button"?

A button is a fender made of woven rope that is attached to the bow and stern of canal boats. So our new logo is both canal-related and conveys a sense of timely information. The button in our new logo now protects the stern of Dragonfly.

Our first news item this month is a report on the Trust's AGM.


The Trust's 2020 AGM was held on Oct 17th, online for the first time.  The number of attendees peaked at 75. Highlights included recognition of an improved atmosphere in the Trust and a gratifying indication of financial stability.  Much progress has taken place in internal & external relationships; in particular an outline was given of 13 significant project areas that are either being planned, are under construction or actually completed. 

Winners of the annual awards were announced, ten questions submitted for the Q & A session were answered, and at the end our sister Trust, Cotswold Canals, was congratulated on their magnificent achievement in winning £8.9 Million grant funding that will connect them to the national network.  A foretaste, perhaps, of our Melksham Link & M4 crossing!  For fuller details, click the Read more button below 

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The Trust has just received a generous legacy following the sad death of Royal Wootton Bassett stalwart Vic Miller.  The funds from Vic's estate will enable us to settle the outstanding loans arising from the successful restoration of the canal at Studley Grange, a long-running project in which he was a key protagonist for the Trust.  A team will be considering how best to use the remainder to benefit the canal in the Royal Wootton Bassett area, as was Vic’s wish

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M4 Crossing

We are extremely pleased to announce that Highways England has awarded us a grant of £42,648 for feasibility studies on the proposed M4 Underpass for the Wilts & Berks Canal. This is a huge step forward towards the realisation of our strategy of joining the two communities of Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon with a blue-green link for walkers, cyclists and boaters, as well as putting a biodiversity corridor across the motorway. Any further developments will be announced in due course. 

To read more details about the M4 crossing please click the link below.

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Getting the Canal into the Bassett Neighbourhood Plan

Today the Town Council launches a consultation on revising the RWB Neighbourhood Plan. The consultation is open until Monday 23rd November 2020. 

All the information is available on the Town Council web-site at Royal Wootton Bassett Neighbourhood Planning

Have a look at the survey and think about where the canal should be mentioned to best highlight what can be done. Please let Jenny Stratton know your views. There is a request for suggestions about sites. The likely big one is early stages of a proposal coming forward to Wiltshire Council strategic planning for a housing development of Dunnington Farm. That would enable the canal as part of the community and leisure facility on the site.  The Branch News page shows the route of the canal through the area.

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Swindon Council consultation

Swindon council is running a consultation to "Review the railway village and railway works conservationa areas". The draft planning document, a rather attractive document outlining the issues faced and some suggested action points and more details of the consultation can be found at Swindon railway village consultation. WBCT has submitted a response which you can find by clicking the Read More link below. Further consultation will follow after they have received responses from interested parties. This first consultation closes on Nov 2nd, but more will follow. 
To read the Trust's response to the consultation click the link below.

read more

News from the branches

• East Vale & Abingdon has a new Chair, who says “Bad Pennies? After a 24 year absence, ex-Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group chairman in the early 1990s, Peter Scatchard is back as Chairman of the newly combined East Vale and Abingdon Branches (now known for short as the East-End Branch) of the Trust.” For a longer & more entertaining version go to Peter Scatchard.
For further details of the Branch itself, go to https://www.wbct.org.uk/our-enthusiasts/east-vale

• West Vale is very active at the moment, having received a £14K grant from the IWA for the Canal Park just outside Shrivenham. Work was done there a couple of years ago to improve its biodiversity aspects; this will progress further and will include rewatering of that stretch of canal.
For more information on the Branch, including its work on corporate volunteering, go to https://www.wbct.org.uk/our-enthusiasts/west-vale

• Swindon – an enormous amount of work is going on in terms of preparing plans for the New Eastern Villages, two short new sections where East Wichel abuts Croft Road, restoration in Wichelstowe that will join the E Wichel section with the existing stretch at Waitrose, the M4 crossing and responding to various proposals elsewhere in the town, including the Railway Conservation Area already mentioned.
For some history and further information, go to https://www.wbct.org.uk/our-enthusiasts/swindon
The Swindon Branch will be holding its AGM online this year on 2nd December at 7.00pm.  Joining details and the Agenda etc can be found on the Swindon page of the website.  Anyone wishing to stand or nominate someone for a position on the committee should contact the Secretary john.farrow@wbct.org.uk

• Royal Wootton Bassett – apart from the significant legacy, the Branch hopes to acquire a new steel work boat, about the same size & weight as Dragonfly. A formal announcement is yet to be made, but it will have the capacity to so some much-needed dredging – watch this space! Steve Bacon has been researching a lot of history; The RWB Branch web pages now show the restoration timeline including links to illustrated reports of all major projects completed to date. In the news are the new Neighbourhood Plan Consultation and a photo survey of the effects of the very heavy rain at the beginning of October.
For further information, go to https://www.wbct.org.uk/our-enthusiasts/rwb

• MCC with Foxham & Lyneham – restoration work on the Peterborough Arms has continued when funds permit, & most significantly the way is now clear to resume work at Pewsham. A meeting was held with Michelle Donelan MP concerning the Melksham Link; she is willing to help in whatever way she can, & it is hoped that progress, stalled for so long, can at last be made.
The branch have been busy clearing the canal at Pewsham of reeds and we can now get our boat down to Double Bridge and back which is a great achievement. . In addition the volunteers continue to work on the waiting wall spill weir and are also extending the waiting wall itself to the wing wall of Middle Lock. To see all our news and current projects visit https://www.wbct.org.uk/our-enthusiasts/mcc-fl

As you will have seen, a huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes despite Covid restrictions. We forsee an explosion of activity in the near future – planning, engineering, fundraising, office work - we need all the help we can get! So if you are reading this and have skills that you might like to put to use as we ramp up our restoration activities, please contact info@wbct.org.uk and we will put you in touch with the appropriate person.

And lastly – on our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/wiltsberkscanal - we have just announced the recruitment of five local Champions to complement the five MPs we have already engaged….

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust: A Non-Profit-Distributing Company Limited by Guarantee
Restoring in partnership the Wilts & Berks canal through Wiltshire, Swindon and Oxfordshire
Registered in England and Wales No. 2267719
Registered Address:
Dauntsey Lock Canal Centre
Dauntsey Lock
Chippenham, SN15 4HD
United Kingdom

Office telephone: 0845 625 1977 Registered Charity No: 299595