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


Press Releases  Back

November 2015

A national commendation has been presented to Wiltshire volunteers
for celebrating the history of a former waterway.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust was praised in the Living Waterways Awards 2015 in London.

The charity was commended by the Canal & River Trust in the Education & Learning category for a series of events based around Pewsham Locks.

Organised by the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch, it included two Heritage Open Days in June of last year when the site was brought back to life with period costumes and storytelling.

Supported by Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre and a £7,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Sharing Heritage scheme, the Open Days attracted hundreds of people.

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust event organiser Val Melville said: “We are delighted to have achieved national recognition for such an ambitious and successful project.

“The Open Days were unforgettable, especially the sight of more than a hundred children in Victorian costume enjoying hammering, sawing and painting, and listening to the stories of the people who once worked along this stretch of the canal.

“The event showed the local community what an exciting industrial heritage we have right on our own doorstep, as well as sharing our plans for its future restoration.”

The charity has already restored hundreds of metres of the waterway between Pewsham and Reybridge, including a wharf, spillweir and bridge, together with a towpath which is very popular with walkers and runners.

Information boards and benches have also been installed, and local youth groups have been involved with tree-planting and the installation of birdboxes and batboxes.

The next stage will be the restoration of the locks themselves, which once lifted canalboats almost 29 feet on their journey between Melksham and Chippenham.

Val added: “This was our first major heritage event but we will continue to involve the local community in our plans to breathe new life into this amazing amenity.

“We hope this latest recognition of our achievements will encourage even more people to join our campaign.”

The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, with links to Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon.


The Living Waterways Awards were presented at the Church House Conference Centre in Westminster, with free travel provided to the Trust volunteers by First Great Western.

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