Chaddington Lock Topping-out Ceremony, 13th April 2005

Dragonfly magazine issue 97 of Summer 2005 carried a good report of the topping-out ceremony for Chaddington Lock. The magazine photos were in monochrome, but click on these thumb-nail images from Vic Miller's collection to see the photos in colour:

VM Chaddington Bill Woodward son of last lock keeper VM Chaddington Lock Topping Out Tailbridge in distanceVM Chaddington Lock T O Ken with cousin of last lock keeperVM Chaddington Lock Topping Out TailbridgeVM Chaddington Lock Topping Out Tailbridge 2

It was a joy to see so many members and past workers, as well as family members from the Lock Cottage at Chaddington, Wootton Bassett (turn of the last century) who were able to join us at the recent Topping Off ceremony.

The Topping Off ceremony took place to mark the occasion, and Juanita Davy, Trust Chairman Ken Oliver and Canal Partnership Chairman Doreen Darby all did their stuff. There was great praise for the project team led by John Bower and key workers such as Ron were there on hand to witness the occasion. All present proudly spoke of their achievements.

A special Trust blue and yellow ribbon was cut by Juanita Davy to mark the opening, and Ken poured the bubbly. This showcase project marks a milestone in restoring the Canal between Wootton Bassett and Swindon and has seen the lock restored, over a 2-year period, entirely by Trust volunteers.

And what an occasion it was with members travelling from as far away as Cornwall. The grandson of the former Lockkeeper Billy, and his cousins were there and regaled us with tales of their past lives.

VM Chaddington Lock Topping Out EmilyVM Chaddington Lock T O K Crew start out in EmilyVM Chaddington Lock T O K Emily Rowed towards lock2005 04 13 Pulling into lock

Skiff Emily was tenderly launched into the water and gracefully completed her shortest – but perhaps most significant voyage yet – she was the first boat of any description to go into the Lock for seventy, eighty and even 100 years, no-one seems to know when the last barge came through.

It was good to see Kennet & Avon members there, headed up by Brian Poulton.

Funding was provided by the Canal Trust, North Wiltshire District Council, Partners and a generous £87,000 ‘Biffaward’ grant. This is the latest stage in the restoration of the former waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, connecting Chippenham, Calne, Wootton Bassett, Swindon and Wantage.

Senior politicians and chairmen of local authorities such as Oxfordshire attended. North Wiltshire District Councillor Doreen Darby is chairman of the Canal Partnership and was delighted by the project’s success, “This is another wonderful success story on the Canal, and testimony of what can be achieved by good partnership working. The high standard of skill and huge endeavour shown by the Trust is for all to see.”

We are now laying plans for the next phase of restoring the canal between Templars Firs, Wootton Bassett and Hay Lane, near Swindon. This will build on the success of the Chaddington Lock.

Chaloner Chute, Project Officer

Note that the lock will only be complete when the gates are fitted; there’s no point in hanging lock gates that won’t be put to use immediately, because they will dry out.