A FASCINATING new book reveals the hidden history of a local waterway which is steadily being brought back to life.
‘Wilts & Berks Canal Through Time’ contains nearly two hundred
photographs tracing the way in which it has changed and developed over
the last century.
It features many local landmarks which have been restored by members of
the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks
Archive images include Double Bridge near Lacock, derelict in the 1960s
but since restored, and the junction with the Kennet & Avon Canal
at Semington which is now sealed up.
There are also more recent pictures of boat rides on the rewatered
section near Lacock, and Trust patron the Duchess of Cornwall cutting
the first turf on a possible new route into Melksham.
Many of the images, including ‘before and after’ shots, have been provided by local volunteers.
‘Wilts & Berks Canal Through Time’ has been written by Trust volunteer Doug Small.
Doug said: “The rural nature of the Wilts & Berks helped to
preserve much of the route after abandonment, whereas an urban canal
would have disappeared under the developer’s shovel.
“What we now have is a photographic history showing the task of the charity as it works to overcome a hundred years of neglect.
“It shows the changing face of the canal from its once-bustling commercial period, to dereliction and eventual restoration.
“When rebuilt, the Wilts & Berks will form the central part of a
much wider Wessex waterway network, opening up a vast amount of the
local countryside as a public amenity.
“This new attraction isn’t only for boaters, but also for walkers,
cyclists and anglers, as well as providing an excellent habitat for
“I hope my book will encourage even more people to support the charity’s efforts to bring this wonderful waterway back to life.”
‘Wilts & Berks Canal Through Time’, from Amberley Publishing, is
available from www.amberleybooks.com at just £13.49 including postage
and packing or if you wish to help the Trust you can buy it via the
Trust website at
In his role as Trust archivist, Doug is always pleased to receive any information relating to the canal.
For more information about the local Branch of the Trust you can visit their Web site www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk