The Melksham, Calne and Chippenham Branch
of the
 Wilts & Berks Canal Trust


Press Releases  Back
February 2015

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud!

Mud is considered to be excellent for the complexion, so volunteers with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust should have the most gorgeous skin tone and texture…
Members of the local Melksham, Chippenham and Calne Branch have been toiling in sludge since the middle of summer 2014, working to restore a 200 year old culvert, which collapsed during last year’s record-breaking wet winter.
The fantastic donation of £10,000 from the Yorkshire Building Society, received in December, has inspired members to redouble their efforts. They have spent many hours working in thick, sticky mud rebuilding the historic structure of Cocklemore Brook Culvert at Pewsham Locks, continuing through the worst that the weather has thrown at them.
Project leader Ray Canter said: “We will probably have to hire in a second 4” pump to try to reduce the water flow through the culvert sufficiently – it is very difficult laying bricks under water, even when wearing waders. Local company Wavin Plastics were kind enough to donate some 400mm twin-wall plastic piping; this piping, with the aid of the second pump, will enable us to control the water flow whilst repair work is carried out. We have to clear the mud and bricks from the culvert bed by hand, and then build three layers of overlapping bricks in an arch, to create what will be effectively an underground tunnel beneath the canal and towpath.
The mud has been so thick and sticky, several members have been banned from entering their houses until they have been hosed down! But despite the mud, we have made excellent progress with the restoration, and our only regret is, that once it’s completed, the culvert will be entirely hidden from view.”
Members of the public are invited to see for themselves, and hear first-hand accounts of the progress made on the culvert, and also on clearing out Pewsham Top Lock. Guides will be on hand to explain developments during the Sponsored Walk on Sunday May 10th, starting at 10am at the Butter Cross in Chippenham.
The Wilts & Berks Trust recently received planning permission for Top Lock and the Lock Cottage, both of which will be restored through fund raising and volunteer labour. The Sponsored Walk plus a Charity Auction at The Angel Hotel Chippenham on March 26th starting at 7pm (free entry), a Quiz Night on 30th March at Derry Hill starting at 7pm, and a Race Night on the 18th April at the Woodside Social Club at Calne starting at 7.30pm (free entry) will all help to raise much needed funds for these ambitious and costly restorations.
Chairman of the Events Committee, Malcolm Hitchinson said: “Not everyone enjoys being a mud lark but everyone can help by supporting the events set out above. The fact that all the work is done by our volunteers, means that every penny raised will go towards the maintenance and restoration of the canal.
Other fund raising events are planned throughout 2015, so please keep checking our web site for details of all forthcoming events
We hope that as many people as possible will come along to as many events as possible to enjoy themselves and to support the restoration of this wonderful community amenity and the resulting wildlife corridor.”
It is hoped to complete the culvert restoration this summer, so that progress can be made on the restoration of the canal between Pewsham and Lacock.

Anyone interesting in finding out more about the canal trust, or in volunteering, please visit the website

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