Grand Union - Wendover Arm and Buckingham Canal
The Wendover Arm Trust was formed in 1989 to restore the unnavigable section of the canal. The first ½ mile, from the former stop lock at Little Tring to a new basin/winding hole, was opened for navigation in 2005, producing a total navigable length of about 1½ miles. Restoration of the next 1½ miles from Little Tring to Drayton Beauchamp is ongoing with two footbridges completed and 1,552m rewatered back to Bridge No 4. This leaves a further 852m to be completed to join with Phase 1, which is fully navigable. During 2022 the trust was able to secure some major funding from Dacorum Borough Council and Tring Town Council for removal of the old tip at Little Tring, and the majority of the infill waste, amounting to 1,400 tons, has been removed by contractors. The trust is now working on the connection between the existing navigable canal and Phase 2 of the restoration.
The historic pumping station site at Whitehouses has been restored by the trust and required works were completed in 2021. This is a site of archaeological interest and an operation feature for taking surplus water into Wilstone Reservoir. Work on restoring brickwork which supported an old rotten swing-bridge has also been finished. The swing-bridge wall is one of the few remaining relics of an ancient highway that fell into disuse when the reservoirs were built.
The trust has planted 550 saplings on the non-towpath side, kindly donated by the Woodland Trust, of which 450 were planted in December 2020 with the help of numerous volunteers, the majority of the trees being behind the completed winding hole. During the 2022/23 winter a further 540 saplings will be planted and it is intended to form a small copse adjacent to Bridge No 4A in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.
During 2021 the trust changed its operating name to Wendover Canal Trust since the word ‘Arm’ created some confusion with the general public and the old logo, showing paddle gear, was not appropriate since there is no lock on the canal. The new logo is a stylised version of Little Tring bridge, rebuilt by the trust during Phase 1 restoration, with a narrowboat passing through. The towpath at the Wendover end of the canal is due to be improved during spring 2023 as a result of funding from five organisations. The surface will be considerably improved and thereby less resistant to flooding, as has occurred in the past.
Buckingham Canal Society completed the restoration of Bridge No 1 at Cosgrove in late 2020 and the crossing opened to farm traffic. Rewatering towards the A5 continues as leaks are identified by raising the level of water. These are then fixed by various means. Focus is now upon Bridge No 2 where BCS has started to uncover the remains. Once it is known what is under there, a decision can be made as to what restoration is practical and necessary. The fully restored section at Bourton Meadow in Buckingham remains a very popular local attraction and is thriving environmentally with multiple endangered species appearing in the vicinity. Buckingham Canal Nature Reserve at Hyde Lane, which BCS leases from the local wildlife trust, is being slowly rewatered as and when water levels and sun (for the solar pump) permit. Back at Cosgrove, design work is in progress with the neighbouring landowners, CRT and the district council, to pursue opportunities for construction of a new 3-mile link for the Buckingham Arm between Cosgrove, Old Stratford and Passenham, to replace that lost to housebuilding.