Please visit the
trust website :- http://www.wbct.org.uk
For an introduction,
Introductory facts and
Enabling Act of Parliament: 1795, building
began: 1796, completed: 1810, abandoned: 1914.
By issuing shares in the Co., raised £411,900
to build the canal & pay off debts.
Built to carry coal from Somerset coalfields to
local towns, Oxford and London.
Main line: 52 miles, branches: 6 miles (58 in
total). Semington on the K& A via Swindon to Abingdon on the
Acquired North Wilts Canal in 1820, connecting
Swindon to Thames and Severn Canal at Cricklade: length about 11
When fully restored: ~60 locks on main line,
~15 locks on branches (~75 in total).
Time scale for planning
approval for the Melksham Link project
What is the Melksham Link? A brand new canal
re-connecting Melksham the Kennet and Avon Canal, to replace the
original line lost under the development of Melksham. It will
parallel the old line, but further to the west.
We had hoped to get planning approval in 2018, having completed all the necessary surveys and statements however ongoing issues with the EA are preventing plannng from being granted at this time (Aug 2020).
Other work associated
with the Melksham Link Project.
A 1940’s Bailey Bridge that was saved from
the scrap yard after years of service in Frome town centre is
being restored for the Melksham Link Project. The component
parts are currently being repainted with paint supplied by
Hempel Paints, and is now ready for re-assembly.
We are developing a Masterplan for the
whole canal corridor of the Melksham Link, including commercial,
residential, tourism and environmental areas.
Time scale for the Pewsham Lock complex
Full plaaning for the restoaration of Pewsham Locks was granted in 2015 and we have started restoration and rebuilding work at the site with funds donated due to the generosity of Players of the Post Code Lottery and a grant from Chippenham Area Board.
The site consists of : 3 locks, lock keepers cottage, carpenters' workshop, saw pit, dry dock, and lime
we plan to start work on the Top Lock bridge in 2020 and hopefully the Dry Dock in 2021.
When will we see boats at
Private canoes and the Branch trip boats,
Willow & Mary Archard, have been used on this stretch.
The ex-British Waterway’s workboat, Boswell,
has been modified and upgraded and in May 2018 was the first narrow boat in over 100 years to crusie under Double Bridge.
What constraints does the
Trust & Branch face in making progress with the restoration?
Have to work around wildlife constraints,
such as habitat restrictions for badgers, bats, great crested
Must be sensitive to the wild bird nesting
season and meadow flower seed head timings.
Must ensure we have habitat surveys in
place and agree work methods so as to minimise wildlife
We are working with Wiltshire Wildlife
Trust and Friends of the Earth to ensure the work we carry out
has a positive effect on the wildlife.
Land and Authority access
After the Act of Abandonment 1914, the land
was sold off or reverted to the original owners, so some has
been built on, some incorporated into farmland and some now back
gardens. The Trust has to acquire a lease or buy the land as it
becomes available, hence the islands of development. As a
charity we cannot spend charitable funds unless we have
'security of tenure' ie legal rights in the form of ownership or
Negotiate with land owners and tenants for
access and long term rights to work.
Seek permissions from councils, and the
Environment Agency on factors that would affect the environment
before, during and after the canal has been reinstated.
Weather suitability, funding availability,
How do we ensure we
protect the environment during the restoration process?
Engage ecologist before projects start.
Commission fauna, flora and habitat studies. Draft and get approval
of work method statements. Create alternative habitats.
For every tree necessarily cleared; plant >10
replacements - mixed indigenous hardwoods.
Installed bird & bat boxes along the tow-path
(20 of each) and bat slit-bricks in Double Bridge.
Adhere to National guidelines such as
timescales for cutting hedges to avoid nesting times, recommended
times of year to mow meadow grasses, etc.
What progress is being
made to acquire Land for the canal
We have a separate team who negotiate land
acquisitions and leases. By their nature these negotiations are
confidential and we are only able to publicise details of them once
they are complete, if then.
Where does the money come from?
Landfill Tax grants, charitable trusts, Area
Boards, Lottery, annual draw tickets, member donations and loans.
Local industry, to a point, but need to get more
local industry on board.
The Trust is also working with other interested
parties to develop sustainable initiatives associated with the
restoration and reinstatement of the Canal and would provide an income
stream for the Trust.
Day to day running cost
Membership, donations, Underwood Trust, (a
charitable trust which supports our objectives).
Local branch fund raising - raffles, sales,
quizzes, events, etc.
Landowner Agreement has been granted for MCC to
progress work on the land either side of the A4 at Pewsham
Major repair to the collapsed culvert near Pewsham
Locks. Funding provided by Yorkshire Building Society as part of their
'Lasting Legacy' fund.
Further afield the Trust received funding of £50K
from the ITV / BIG Lottery People’s Millions to create a 1km stretch of
canal with a multi-use tow path and wildlife area at a landfill site
near Royal Wootton Bassett.
The Trust has also purchased the Peterborough Arms,
a canal side pub, at Dauntsey Lock. We are planning to refurbish it and
hope to re-open it in late 2015 / early 2016.
Will the Calne and Chippenham Arms be reinstated
and if so what route will they take?
Calne arm: yes, in time, restore the original line.
Chippenham arm: the original Chippenham Arm, no,
lost under the Pewsham estate and the Bus Station. However exploring
possible new Chippenham Arm, from Studley Bridge along old railway line.
This would enable boats to go to the Avon in Monkton Park.
Will the route of the canal follow the original
The line of the canal will follow the original
route where possible. However, alternative routes will be taken where
the original line has been built over or is longer a viable route. The
two main variations are the route from Semington to Melksham and the
route around the south of Swindon. It is still proposed to have a basin
How will you get the Canal across the A4
The A4 was carried over the original canal by means
of a road bridge, parts of which can still be seen on the North side of
the A4. Our preferred option would be to have a new bridge built on the
line of the current A4. This is however subject to discussions, at the
appropriate time, with the Department for Transport and Wiltshire