Creation of Canal Trust marked at Spring 1997 festival with Johnny Morris

In the mid 1990s, the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group formed a partnership with local authorities and others under the name 'Wilts & Berks Canal Trust', which was finally incorporated on 31st March 1997. TV personality Johnny Morris, a Vice-President of the Amenity Group, helped to celebrate this milestone at a festival on the restored canal at Templar's Firs where he also performed a naming ceremony for a new trail-boat.

Vic Miller was there to take the photos that appear here.

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The new organisation was incorporated as a 'Local Authority Controlled Limited Company' ('LACCo') and made great strides in commissioning strategy studies such as the Scott-Wilson Report of 1998, but after a few years it was found that a LACCo had its limitations. Amenity Group chairman Tony Davy explained in Dragonfly magazine 79: "There are many restrictions on what such a company can do, particularly in financial matters. There are other restrictions on who can be a member and on how matters are dealt with. The end result is that it has proved to be a cumbersome time-consuming process to get anything done, and it is only due to the drive, enthusiasm and sustained efforts of its members that the Trust has achieved as much as it has."

At the Amenity Group's AGM in 2000, the Trust's new Project Officer Chaloner Chute recommended a different structure which gave more flexibility; the 'Wilts & Berks Canal Trust' then became the 'Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership' - and within a year the Amenity Group was able to use the name 'Wilts & Berks Canal Trust' for itself.

Johnny Morris was 80 when he performed the Trust Launch ceremony. Two years later, he collapsed at home and soon after died in a nursing home; he was buried in the garden of his house in Hungerford.