1990 - Oil Pipeline built across the canal line
By 1990, the Amenity Group's Wootton Bassett branch already had a few pipelines to contend with before canal restoration had even started:
- West of the future Templar's Firs slipway, several sewer pipes and storm-water drainage pipes;
- East of Noremarsh Footbridge, a mukitary oil pipeline serving RAF Lyneham;
- West of Hancock's Water, a sewer pipe built across the canal from the Woodshaw estate.
However, during 1990 a new commercial oil pipeline was built from the Fawley refinery near Southampton to the Midlands, passing through north Wiltshire. Concerned locals raised the alarm - the pipeline would be too shallow where it crossed the canal. In 'Dragonfly' issue 39 from September 1990, John Filer of the Calne branch reported on the problem and its solution:
"A thank-you to the constructors of the pipeline that is currently cutting a swathe across north Wiltshire, for despite several time constraints and cost of re-bending the large metal pipe, they have diverted the pipeline to allow sufficient clearance under the canal at several places. This error was originally due to a mix-up between the various companies involved, but full marks for their swift response once they realised what had happened."
John Bower remembers that there's U-Bend in the pipeline under the old canal at Harris Croft Farm, which is probably a slight exaggeration.
The Amenity Group's archivist, the late Gerry Townsend of Wootton Bassett, presented a set of photos of the pipeline's progress through the farm:
In the 30 years since the pipeline was laid, trees had grown up in the canal bed, obscuring the view of the pipeline marker north of the canal from the footpath except in mid-winter. These pipeline markers are intended to be seen from the air by low-flying helicopters; fences above the pipeline are usually painted white. The following photos were taken on Boxing Day, 2020: