stretch of restored canal will be taken back in time to show what it
would have looked like more than a hundred years ago.
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is holding a free Open Day at Pewsham
Locks, on the outskirts of Chippenham, on Saturday June 21 from
Activities will include demonstrations of spinning, weaving and
painting as well as opportunities to have a go at brick-making,
puddling clay and sawing logs.
Visitors will also enjoy traditional folk music and refreshments while
storytellers act out the roles of historical characters associated with
the local canal and a horse walks along the towpath.
There will even be a free minibus providing transport to and from Chippenham town centre throughout the day.
The event, which is funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage
grant of £7,900, has been organised by the Melksham, Chippenham &
Calne branch of the Trust to mark one hundred years since the
abandonment of the canal in 1914.
Branch chairman Derek Flexer said: “We are sincerely grateful for the
support of the Heritage Lottery Fund which is enabling us to organise
such an exciting event for the local community.
“Pewsham Locks was once a very important part of the canal. Not only
did it lift narrowboats on their journey from Melksham to Chippenham,
but it also included a boat-building and repair business as well as
other associated activities which probably meant it was very busy
during the canal’s heyday.
“So our volunteers will be recreating many of those roles and inviting visitors to have a go at some of those activities.
“One of the most interesting aspects of the day will be the
storytellers dressed in traditional costume who will play the parts of
“These include Ambrose Neate who was praised in 1898 for jumping into
the canal to save a drowning boy; Sarah Brown who lived in the
lock-keeper’s cottage and will share the exciting story of a burglary
in 1816; and Elizabeth Rawlings who was born on a boat at Pewsham in
“All of the stories have been provided by local historians researching the history of the canal.”
The Open Day will also include an information tent with teas, coffees
and cakes, as well as the sale of Trust merchandise including books and
The free 16-seater minibus will depart Chippenham bus station at 10am
and then every 40 minutes until 12.40pm, with return journeys from
Pewsham Locks departing at 1.20pm and then every 40 minutes until
Visitors can also reach the site by following the Sustrans cycle route.
Derek added: “There has been huge interest in this event and we hope it will attract hundreds of families throughout the day.
“They will also be able to enjoy the significant stretch of restored
canal below the locks which includes a wharf, spillweir, bridge and
other structures, as well as benches and information boards.
“It will be a fascinating insight into the history of the Wilts &
Berks and we hope it will inspire many more people to join the
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West said: “Our
Sharing Heritage programme provides a wonderful opportunity for
communities to delve into their local heritage and we were delighted to
be able to offer this grant to enable the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
can embark on a real journey of discovery.
"Heritage means such different things to different people and HLF’s
funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and
celebrate what’s important to them in their local area.”
For more information about the local Branch of the Trust you can visit their Web site www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk