The Cotswold Canals Trust: round-up of 2022
The 50th anniversary of the trust: volunteers and members celebrate key achievements and look to the future. Jim White, chair of trustees, said: “50 years and counting! I have only been privileged to be part of the last 12 years, building on the dedication of so many volunteers since 1972. This year of celebration has inspired, engaged and revitalised the Cotswold Canals’ restoration efforts for the future. The crowning glory of the year has been the remarkable efforts of our volunteers to ‘get back to normal’ following Covid. Not only have we done exactly that, but we have also innovated, grown and diversified every effort from east to west. With thanks to the generous support and encouragement from our members, supporters and partners, our waterways restoration movement is as strong now as it ever was.”
Golden Trow: 50th anniversary appeal
The year was happily punctuated by Golden Trow celebrations which raised the roof and over £100,000. The staff and volunteers delivered a plethora of fun and family-focused events starting with the CanAmble and then the exhibition, raft race, concert, Inglesham open day and the Golden Trow Appeal itself.
Historic restoration efforts
In the year, the trust celebrated the charity’s greatest achievements from the early wins – Litton Bypass, Pike Bridge – to more recent successes including Weymoor Bridge, Inglesham which celebrated with an open day, the A38 Whitminster roundabout and now Ocean Railway Bridge. The charity, driven by its communities, is leading and inspiring change for good.
Rebuilding CCT’s Western end restoration depot
The CCT restoration volunteers completed their depot with a total rebuild and installing a 40ft project office for the Cotswold Canals Connected (CCC) Engineering Team. This will be the core centre for CCC Phase 1B, the current 4-mile-long Ocean Swing Bridge to Saul Junction restoration. This will be the main construction activity for the next three years, co-led by Stroud District Council, CRT and Gloucester County Council. A major volunteer construction achievement has been the restoration of Pike Lock, repairing chunks missing from the lock walls, building and installing CCT’s own-designed-type paddle gear and own-designed control sluices at the top end. It now only needs new gates.
Reclaimed wood for 32 balance beams
With eight locks to furnish with new gates, CCT was delighted to acquire all the wood required for the 32 balance beams on CCC Phase 1B, generously donated by Southsea Coastal Scheme. As it decommissioned its walkway, CCT can make use of it once more. No hard wood is going to landfill. The charity was delighted to receive this gift which will completely fulfil the brief and save the project thousands of pounds. (southseacoastalscheme.org.uk)
Refurbishing crane barges to enhance the dredging of Stroudwater Navigation
Earlier in 2022, a new (old) crane barge was acquired to be refurbished ahead of joining the workboat fleet. The boat moorings and piling team, with help from its western depot, worked tirelessly to get the barge Dudley restored and successfully launched at the Stroud Brewery site ready to carry out significant dredging work in the new year.
Eastern end developments
The Thames & Severn end of the canals has an exciting new development: a brand-new depot currently under construction to replace Alex Farm as the lease comes to an end.
Cotswold Canals’ water transfer
The trust offered a big thank you to all its members and supporters who participated in the WRSE Emerging Plan consultation in May 2022. There were 1,150 with 300 in favour of the Severn Thames Transfer. CCT goes out to consultation again in January 2023. Find out more at cotswoldcanals.org.
ICE SW Awards 2023
For the second year on the trot, Cotswold Canals Partners picked up the Best New Build under £8m from the ICE South-West Awards, this time for Ocean Jubilee Rail Bridge. The bridge reinstates a navigable channel for boats to pass under the railway and was delivered in just seven days during Christmas 2021.
Thanks to all the WRGs
In 2022 the trust celebrated many things, but two projects have only been made possible with the continued support and efforts of WRGs. The Inglesham open day brought hundreds of people to the site by boat and into the lock for the first time in over 100 years. Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP unveiled a plaque in recognition of the incredible restoration.
And on the Stroudwater Navigation, WRGs joined in over the winter to unearth the historic remains of the John Robinson Lock (formerly known as Westfield Lock). Work will continue into 2023, and it will come back into full use as part of the CCC Phase 1B restoration.
The Lottery-winning Waterway Waterways World January 2021