East Vale Branch
East Vale Branch meetings are held on the 1st Wednesday of each month from 8pm at East Hanney Royal British Legion Mill Orchard, East Hanney, Wantage OX12 0JH. Normal meetings are a chance for a catch up about activities and to discuss up and coming workparties and outside events eg talks and walks. We have occasional speaker evenings.
The branch story
The East Vale branch includes the middle section of the canal through the Vale of White Horse in South Oxfordshirel and covers the section from the Baulking Road , Uffington to the GW Main Line Railway Bridge north of Ardington.
The branch area also covers the Wantage Branch including the historic Sack House at Wantage Wharf, our small museum.
The canal was built from west to east starting at Semington in 1795. Construction reached East Challow some 11 years later in 1806.
The East Vale section includes a large part of the “ Seven Mile Pound” from Longcot Bottom Lock (within West Vale’s boundaries) through to Grove Top Lock, the Grove lock flight of six Locks and the two Locks. Only the Grove flight is accessible from public footpath.
On the subject of public access, we are delighted to have an almost continuous public footpath from Childrey New Road to Neville’s Farm bridge, a distance of around 4 miles ( nearly 8% of the main line).
Our first restoration project was the Elm Farm Pound of some 400 yards between Grove Top Lock and Lime Kiln Lock. This forms a vital green barrier between Grove and Wantage and is a well used footpath and amenity area.
A new road to the west of Grove Top Lock necessitates a new route for the canal around the Denchworth Road/Mably Way Roundabouts. The site of the required bridge is protected in the outline planning for the Grove Airfield development. Across the next road the various housing developments in Stockham commence and in the Phase 2 development the diversionary route forms part of the site plan so that the housing avoids the canal corridor.
The pound between Stockham and East Challow was dredged and the footpath cleared around 20 years ago and again is a well used footpath and unofficial cyclepath.
At Childrey New Road we have a 600 yard stretch of restored canal ending at the eastern boundary with a new weir to control the water level and field drainage. This forms part of a good circular walk around Childrey.
Ongoing work includes routine maintenance on the sections we have control over. We await a signing of a lease over a substantial section of canal to be restored. At Childrey/West Challow we installed a temporary bridge over the canal in order that we may divert the public bridleway to rebuild the bridge over the canal.
We have our own branch marquee and displays which we use when we attend local fetes and shows. Eg The White Horse Show at Uffington.
The Sack house is open from Easter to the end of December on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday and Saturday of each of month from 10-2pm, although this is under review. The small building stood at the entrance to the canal wharf. It was used as a weighbridge, office, coal merchants and dates back to soon after the canal was built into Wantage in around 1810. There are various canal artefacts on display as well as information displays on the industrial archaeology of the wharf area eg not just the canal but the Wantage Tramway and the Mill. We are always looking for more volunteers to keep this open. Please contact the chairman for more information.