Canal bail out earns thanks
A DELIGHTED charity has thanked supporters for safeguarding the restoration of an impressive flight of locks.
The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust issued an urgent appeal to its members after an important stretch of the waterway was recently put up for sale.
Seven Locks, in the open countryside between Lyneham and Royal Wootton Bassett, was the longest flights of locks along the entire length of the canal, lifting boats almost 18 metres on their journey north to Swindon.
It was overgrown and almost forgotten until trust volunteers donated thousands of hours to empty the canal bed of rubble and rubbish, clear the former towpath and begin the restoration of the original chambers.
But three acres of the land was recently put up for sale and so the trust urgently needed to find £25,000 to purchase the 0.5km stretch containing four of the locks so that it could continue the restoration.
An appeal to members led to an enthusiastic response and raised the money in a matter of weeks – now the charity hopes to continue fundraising to breathe new life into this whole section of the waterway.
Volunteer Kath Hatton said: “We have been delighted by people’s generosity in safeguarding the future of this vital site.
“The trust received more than 400 donations, ranging in value from £10 to £5,000, together with £2,500 from the Inland Waterways Association.
“Now that we’ve secured the purchase of the land, any additional money will be used to support the ongoing acquisition of other sections of the canal corridor to the north and south – hopefully including the remaining locks in the flight.
“This is one of the most spectacular parts of the Wilts and Berks, passing through beautiful countryside and surrounded by so much wildlife.
“Our work parties had already made good progress thanks to the generous support of the landowner.
“But we hope this latest purchase will act as a catalyst to encourage more volunteers to join the campaign and increase the pace of restoration.
“Future plans would include rebuilding the wharf walls, preparing pipework for back-pumping the water, and improving the towpath.
“Working together we can restore an important piece of our industrial heritage.”
The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the former waterway from the Kennet and Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames and Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon.
Visit www.wbct.org.uk, call Kath on 01380 831231 or email email@example.com.
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