Lowering of Sewer Pipe etc., opening up full Templar's Firs section, 1998
In 'Dragonfly' magazine 69, Summer 1998, Gerry Townsend wrote about the preparations made early in the year for the Trail-Boat Festival:
"When we were told in committee last year that Wootton Bassett had been nominated as the venue for the 14th National Trail Boat Festival, we were delighted, but there was an element of doubt; could we get the site ready on time? The infamous sewer pipe blocked off the eastern section of our patch to all except canoes, and the money was not available to re-lay the pipe at a lower level.
"There was a lot of work to be done along the towpath, some of which could not be carried out until the pipe job had been completed. During the winter our workers were needed on another section of the waterway and there was a footbridge to be built at Nore Marsh.
"March proved dry but April was the wettest for 20 years with 3½ inches of rain The footbridge was built during the three week run up to the festival; our small workforce worked wonders.
"In April it was arranged that the sewer pipe be re-laid and, while the canal was drained, the eastern end was dredged out and widened with the winding hole at the end.
"With all the rainfall the canal soon filled up to its highest level. This in tum brought another problem; on May 3rd the extra water pressure started a leak around the valve chamber, a place which had given trouble before, again the water level had to be drastically reduced to enable fresh clay to be puddled in. However, with the festival less than 3 weeks away, the two small streams bringing surface water from Nore Down refilled the section just in time.
"On the Thursday and Friday of the festival weekend Group members were busy putting up tents, marking out the arena and doing the many other tasks."
The second half of Gerry's narrative described the Trail-Boat Festival itself, which you can read here.