A former flight of locks could be given a new lease of life as a
popular attraction for tourists and schools, according to plans
submitted by local volunteers.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has already restored a significant stretch of the waterway between Chippenham and Lacock.
Now it hopes to win support for the most ambitious phase yet – breathing new life into the derelict Pewsham Locks.
The charity wants to create a visitor centre and outdoor classroom
alongside the restoration of the locks, dry-dock and other historical
The project is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds but, if
planning permission is granted, the Trust would apply to national
bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Some of the work could be carried out by the Trust’s own workparties.
Pewsham Locks once lifted boats almost 30 feet on their journey from
Melksham to Chippenham but fell into disrepair after the canal was
abandoned in the early 1900s.
Volunteers have already cleared some of the lock chambers and hope to
connect them to the stretch which has already been dredged and
rewatered to the south.
The ultimate aim would be to connect this to the ‘Melksham Link’, where
the charity has submitted plans to restore the canal from the Kennet
& Avon at Semington, up through Melksham town centre and then on
The Pewsham restoration would include a two-storey building on the site
of the former lock-keeper’s cottage, featuring a cafe and visitor
centre on the ground floor and a potential holiday let above.
The dry-dock would be rebuilt, while a nearby engineering workshop
could also be used as an outdoor classroom. All of the buildings would
have natural slate roofs.
The plans also include the restoration of the lime-kiln which produced lime for use in building and agriculture.
Water management and back-pumping would also be included.
Colin Fletcher (pictured) is the local director of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.
He said: “The charity has been working on this exciting scheme for
around 18 months with much of the design provided free of charge by our
own volunteers, and the Inland Waterways Association providing £1,690
towards the planning fees.
“The Pewsham stretch already attracts lots of people of all ages,
from families with pushchairs to joggers and cyclists, but we believe
there is so much more potential – particularly once the link to the
Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham is restored.
“The ultimate aim would be to join the rest of the network, including
the stretches already brought back to life at Calne, Dauntsey and Royal
“A visitor centre and outdoor classroom would be a big boost to tourism
and raise awareness of an important part of our local heritage. It
would also help to open up the countryside.
“We hope the local community will show their support by emailing the council to push for approval.”
The full application – 13/00330/FUL – can be viewed in the North
Wiltshire section of www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planninganddevelopment where
people can submit their own comments.
For more information about the local Branch of the Trust you can visit their Web site www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk