East Vale & Abingdon Branch
The East Vale & Abingdon branch chiefly covers the historic line of the canal through the Vale in the area around Wantage, Grove and villages to the west. Officially for internal purposes the boundaries are Baulking Road, Uffington to Jubilee Junction on the Thames.
East Vale & Abingdon Branch meetings are held on the 1st Wednesday of each month from 8pm at East Hanney Royal British Legion Mill Orchard, East Hanney, Wantage OX12 0JH. Normal meetings are a chance for a catch up about activities and to discuss up and coming workparties and outside events eg talks and walks. We have occasional speaker evenings. (Branch meetings in the British Legion are currently suspended due to the Coronavirus situation.)
The branch story
The East Vale & Abingdon branch includes the middle section of the canal through the Vale of White Horse in South Oxfordshire and covers the section from the Baulking Road , Uffington to the Thames at Abingdon. The branch area also covers the Wantage Branch including the historic Sack House at Wantage Wharf, our small museum. The canal was built from west to east starting at Semington near Melksham in 1795. Construction reached East Challow some 11 years later in 1806. Work continued including the mile long branch into Wantage and the canal was officially opened in September 1810 The East Vale section includes a large part of the “Seven Mile Pound” from Longcot Bottom Lock (within West Vale’s boundaries) through to Grove Top Lock, the Grove lock flight of six Locks and the two Locks. Only the Grove flight is accessible from public footpath.
We have our own branch marquee and displays which we use when we attend local fetes and shows. Eg The White Horse Show at Uffington and Childrey Fete.
We are delighted to have an almost continuous public footpath from Childrey New Road to Neville’s Farm bridge, a distance of around 4 miles (nearly 8% of the main line). The relevant maps are OS Landranger 174 or Explorer Map 170 ( Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse). A walk leaflet for a circular walk starting and finishing in Wantage is available on this website. Other parts of the towpath are on private land and we would ask that the owners’ privacy is maintained.
The Sack House at The Wharf
The sack house at Mill Street, Wantage, Oxon OX12 9GF is open from Easter to the end of November on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each of month from 10am-2pm (currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions). The small building stood at the entrance to the canal wharf. It was used as a weighbridge, office, coal merchants and dates back to soon after the canal was built into Wantage in around 1810. There are various canal artefacts on display as well as information displays on the industrial archaeology of the wharf area, i.e. not just the canal but also the Flour Mill opposite as well. The name of the museum is taken from the enamel sign on the front of the building advertising the West of England Sack Hiring Company.