Picture: Trust volunteer Paul Lenaerts alongside one of the information boards promoting the Melksham Link
Exciting plans to restore a former waterway through Melksham town centre are now on display alongside the river.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has installed two information boards
near Sainsburys and Waitrose in order to raise awareness of the
charity’s vision for a new leisure and tourism attraction.
They include the history of the canal together with both the original
route of the waterway which is now lost under housing and the proposed
new route which would bring boats along the River Avon instead.
The boards have been funded thanks to generous grants of £500 from Melksham Area Board and £400 from Melksham Town Council.
The route, known as the ‘Melksham Link’, would create a new junction
with the Kennet & Avon Canal near Semington and then head north to
Berryfield before joining the River Avon near the Challymead
roundabout, where a new weir would raise the water level to allow boats
to navigate through the town centre.
The existing weir above the town bridge would remain exactly as it is
today, but a new river lock and a hydro-electric turbine would be built
The waterway would then continue up the river before rejoining the
original route north of Melksham Forest. From here, significant
stretches towards Lacock and Pewsham have already been restored and
Plans are currently with Wiltshire Council while wildlife surveys and environmental studies continue.
Trust volunteer Paul Lenaerts (pictured) is Project Manager for the
Melksham Link and a member of the Trust’s Melksham, Chippenham &
He said: “Plans for bringing the Wilts & Berks Canal back through
Melksham are steadily gaining momentum, so we are grateful to the Area
Board and the town council for helping us to raise awareness of these
“The new canal wouldn’t just be for boaters and canoeists but also
anglers, walkers, runners, cyclists and people with pushchairs and
wheelchairs who would all have access to a towpath which would open up
the local countryside.
“There would also be huge benefits for tourism and employment - similar
to those enjoyed by towns and villages along the K&A - as well as a
new wildlife corridor enabling plants and animals to flourish.
“The Melksham Link could completely transform the town’s prospects.”
For more information about the local Branch of the Trust you can visit their Web site www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk