Wessex Waterway

Restoring for the Future

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"Men of true genius glow with liberal spirit,
And bind a garland round the bust of merit;
While blockheads, void of wisdom's grateful light,
Bury distinction in eternal night."

       The Canal through Wantage and Grove

        For over twenty five years the stalwarts of the East Vale Branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust have been restoring and protecting the canal from Childrey New Road to Abingdon.  Several miles of the towpath (much now designated footpaths) have been renovated providing pleasant walks.  Alongside the path some of the canal has been dredged and now holds water.  The improved environment quickly encourages a return of wildlife to what had been previously impenetrable barren areas covered with brambles and  stinging nettles.  A number of structures have either been renovated or rebuilt. Childrey Wharf has been restored and in 2006 the New Junction with the River Thames at Abingdon was opened.
         In 2014 the Branch opened up the 'Sack House Museum', one of the last two remaining buildings on the old Wantage wharf site.  The current project is the rebuilding of the bridleway bridge at Childrey; a temporary bridge has already been installed.


      Although over the years volunteers have come and gone a solid core has remained firm.  As with all organisations of this type there are never enough workers; so new "blood" is always welcome.
        As well as the physical work on the canal the Branch also enjoys various social events throughout the year. Conducted walks are also undertaken to introduce visitors to the canal route, and presentations are made to any group or organisation that shows interest.  To keep everybody informed the Branch meets once a month for a semi-formal meeting at which various reports are given.  A small committee takes the day-to-day decisions and guides the volunteers.