Spring 2022

The canal park is certainly showing signs of spring with trees in flower and daffodils, planted this winter, together with the celandines, brightening the borders of the copse.
It might appear that our volunteers have not achieved very much in the past 3 months apart from some work to, and notices appearing on, the "bus-stop" information board, plus the planting of a beech tree and an oak to commemorate the Queen's Jubilee. However, much has be going on off-site and in the preparation for the next stage to re-water the length of canal within the park.
Weather permitting, significant works should become apparent in the next 3 months!

Spring on the Park 2022  The "bus-stop" March 2022  Planting a Jubilee beech  Jubilee tree plaque 


December 2021

On Wednesday the 29th, despite miserable wet and windy weather, 10 local people, joined branch volunteers, faced the elements and the mud to plant 100 tree saplings in the Shrivenham Canal Park.Tree planting December 2021
Many were planted around the new compound fence, others ajacent to the canal to create a new small copse and the remainer to improve the boundary hedges.
The saplings were supplied by The Woodland Trust and will count towards The Queen's Green Canopy & The Big Climate Fightback nation-wide tree-planting initiatives.



Due to the long period of time since the last Branch AGM, the committee decided to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Branch on Wednesday 15th December.

Thank you to all who attended.

Our Chairman / Treasurer and our Vice Chairman / Work-party Organiser, plus the Secretary and Plant Officer, all long-serving committee members, decided to stand down.

The new elected committee comprises -
Chairman - Ian Mitchell
Vice Chairman - Ian Bailey
Secretary - Ian Horsfall
Treasurer & Plant Officer - Richard Elson
Work-party Organiser - Kenn Tagg
Membership Secretary - Jean Norris
Corporate Volunteers Co-ordinator - Alan Norris
Fundraising & Website Editor - Ian Skerry

Autumn 2021
Work has continued on the Park with our regular Wednesday & Saturday work-parties. Only a couple had to be abandoned because of adverse weather.

The two remaining "bug hotels" have been completed and filled, making four around the Park. 

Two more wooden benches have been constructed and installed, one in the meadow area and another overlooking the then dry canal, now there are four, plus a log bench on the north side of the copse. When complete, the notice board by the car park will also have an built-in bench, so there will be plenty of seating for visitors.

A major effort has been made to complete a new fence around the storage compound. The original was chain-link fencing that had been up for 20 years and was rather rusty and no longer secure. We managed to purchase a quantity of palisade steel fencing that was due to be scrapped but installation was far from easy and has taken six months. Making holes for the posts was very difficult and time consuming as the Park is on the old rubbish tip for Shrivenham and the ground is full of stones. Then each fence panel weighed about 100 kg, so every one was a herculean task to install. However, in late October the original gates were repositioned into the new fence, with the works now nearing completion. 

The storage containers are also being refreshed with a coat of paint.

Additionally, of course, routine maintenance of the footpaths and grass areas has continued. Fortunately in October we had Nationwide Building Society visit on a team-building day and 13 extra pairs of hands did much hedge trimming and other useful tasks.

The Nationwide team - before starting work

 Bug hotel in meadow area  New bench in the meadow area New bench overlooking the canal  Compound fence 


Summer 2021
Our volunteers have been meeting regularly on Wednesday mornings and now also on Saturdays to carry on with the essential summer maintenance - keeping the footpaths clear with hedge trimming and grass cutting as well as progressing the project to enhance the Park, funded by the IWA.
We were fortunate to have two visits of teams from Nationwide and St James Place who helped with hedge and ditch maintenance.

Also, on many Saturdays we had teams of young helpers from the local Scout Group who assisted with keeping the Park tidy and filling the "bug hotels". Two of the bug hotels are now complete with two more well advanced.

One of our volunteers is constructing wooden benches from donated timber, two have been installed with more to follow.

Another volunteer has been rebuilding our main park notice board, know as The Bus-stop, one of the improvements being funded by the IWA grant.

Parts of the cleared meadow area have been seeded with encouraging results despite problems from the local hungry rabbit population.

Our aged mowers continue to require constant maintenance and additionally, we have been making improvements to our storage compound.

On water levels & depths for "our" length of the canal, very important as our length is part of a "pound" that is about 7km long between the locks at South Marston and Longcot. Investigations of the remaining original structures have led to the conclusion that the level was 500mm lower than thought previously. This will have significant repercussions for the dredging of the canal and on the construction of new aqueducts, bridges, etc.

So altogether, we have been quite busy, and more help would be very welcome!

 Bug hotel & a new bench seat by the copse New main information board in the park under construction   Wildflowers in the meadow area


Spring 2021
Despite the winter weather, Wednesday work-parties have continued most weeks with tasks around the Canal Park, which now is showing the change of season, with a green haze to the trees and flowers here and there in sheltered spots.
The meadow area has been almost doubled in size by the removal of bramble and scrub and is now ready for sowing wildflower seeds. The "Bug Hotels" are growing in height!

Park entrance in spring   The meadow area in March  The bug hotel in the copse

Measurements continue to be taken of the structures along our length of canal in order to establish an appropriate water level & depth.

The Branch hopes to restart Saturday work-parties commencing 17th April.

Older news items are available in the West Vale News Archive.

December 2020
Work at The Canal Park
Detailled planning continues of the various initiatives to be funded by the IWA grant.
Branch work-parties have been carrying out footpath and general maintenance. Additionally we have commenced installation of "bug hotels" that will have community involvement next year. We also arranged the felling of an old, potentially unsafe willow on the northern boundary of the park. More on the Park Project page.

Willow felling

October 2020
IWA Award
The Trust has been awarded almost £14,000 from the Inland Waterways Association's Waterways in Progress fund. It will build on the biodiversity work already undertaken over many years at the Shrivenham Canal Park, Stainswick Lane. Work will include building wildlife trails and habitats, installing bird and bat boxes, new information boards and seating - and putting water back in the 120m canal length.

Detailled planning is currently being carried out, with the work taking place later this year and next and should be completed by December 2021.

August 2020
New Signage along the Canal
Over the summer, the faded canal signs in Townsend Rd, Station Rd, Stainswick Lane and in the Park have all been replaced by bright fresh ones.
The kissing gate to the north of the Park has had side rails added.

Park entranceKissing gate

July 2020

New Mower PurchasedMower verge trimming
ln order to keep the tough grass and brambles in check in the Park and along the footpaths, last year, we decided a heavy-duty mower was essential, our second-hand domestic mowers just could not cut it. We needed to raise £3100. We are pleased to report that we had great support from all the local organisations we applied to – the Vale of White Horse New Homes Bonus Scheme awarded 37% of the cost, the Shrivenham Fête Committee awarded £240 and The Shrivenham Institute Charity £100. Our application for £1500, via local company Montala, to the Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity unfortunately coincided with the start of the pandemic and the charity closed the fund to all except groups directly supporting those suffering as a result of the virus. However, Montala very generously donated the £1500. All these funds, together with a Branch contribution, finally enabled the purchase in late July, with our Chairman, Graham immediately testing it's capability.