W&BCT becomes Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership

Chaloner Chute joined the Canal Trust as its Project Officer in September 2000 - and quickly made some far-reaching recommendations.

The year 2001 was one of name changes. First, the 'Wilts & Berks Canal Trust' became the Canal Partnership as featured on the front cover of Dragonfly 81:

Cover for Dragonfly 81

Inside, Amenity Group chairman Tony Davy mentioned that nothing much was happening physically, thanks to Foot-and-Mouth restrictions. However:

"Although we may not have been able to get out on the cut, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. By the time that you read this, the public launch of the new Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership should have happened. Arranging that launch has taken quite a lot of several people's time over the last few weeks."  [...]

"Once the current Trust has renamed itself as the Partnership, the way will then be open for us to become the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, as we discussed at the last AGM. Of course, there is far more than just a name change in the change from the Trust to the Partnership. The membership of the Partnership will consist of a much wider range of bodies than that of the old Trust.

"There will be members who represent bodies such as property development companies, commercial boat operators and the Environment Agency, in addition to those more directly associated with canal restoration, such as British Waterways and the Waterways Trust and our friends from the Cotswold and K & A Trusts. Hopefully, the end result will be increased pressure to restore the Wilts & Berks and increased funding to achieve that restoration."

In the next issue, Dragonfly 82 of Autumn 2001, Tony Davy reported:

"This has been the summer of Partnership launches. The first was our own Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership, which was reported in the last Dragonfly. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those whose efforts made it such a successful day For many of the VIPs and members of the media, the highlight of the day was a trip on the River Avon on Vic Miller's boat, Nonsuch. It was interesting to watch these trips. A group of bustling, busy, stressed people got on the boat and, half an hour later, they got off again - relaxed, happy and stress-free. A good practical demonstration of one of the advantages of canal restoration, I thought.

"The second Canal Partnership to be launched was the Cotswold Canals' Partnership. British Waterways and the Waterways Trust are aiming to restore most of the Cotswolds Canals over the next 5 years. This is excellent news for us because, once the Cotswolds reaches Latton Junction, it will increase the pressure for the restoration of the North Wilts and Wilts & Berks."

In October 2001, the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group was itself able to change its name to the 'Wilts & Berks Canal Trust'.

This still left an anomaly. Under the local government reorganisation of 1974, the old North Berkshire had already been transferred to Oxfordshire, and so the line of the old canal no longer passed through the re-aligned county of Berkshire. By 2012 after further local government reorganisation, the canal line passed through just three local authority areas. It made sense to remove this anomaly. Thus, the 'Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership' finally became the 'Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership'