Wantage Waterway

Restoring for the Future

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August 5th 2017

Better News about Latton Basin

At a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees in July the following Proposals were agreed.

  1. We make clear that Latton continues to be a WBCT project, subject to minimal cost to the Trust.
  2. The land team be requested to confirm with the landowners/agents that the Trust has continued permission to work whilst the future of the site is progressed so that health and safety procedures can be properly followed. Permission to work, however, must be granted in order for work to continue.
  3. The Land team are requested to try for ownership of the area at nominal cost.
  4. Otherwise, re-start the process of renewal of the lease. An attempt should be made to see if the land owners will agree to a longer lease as is our normal custom but for this time if three years is the maximum then on this occasion that will be approved.
  5. A display board should point out the involvement of the W&BCT.
  6. A committee be set up to report back to the BOT on the longer-term future for the project at the desired outcome at the end of the lease. A time limit of 6 months has been suggested?

       Since then I have had an email from Max (Head of WBCT Land Team) in which he says 'I have spoken again with Imogen Crookes (Savilles) and await her client's decision on various matters, but in the meantime work can continue on the same basis that it has done since the previous lease expired'.

      This is all very encouraging after the trauma of the last nine months and although there are still some obstacles to us getting back on track so we must not become complacent.

August 3rd 2017

Some VERY GOOD News and some not so good.

     First the Good News.  In 2016 WBCT won an award from the  Association for Industrial Archaeology for the Sack House at Wantage Wharf.  This was for ' Promoting the study, preservation and presentation of Britain's industrial heritage'.

Well done Brian, Mike and all the Team.


    Not so good news. We had a walk down Jubilee Junction on Wednesday (2nd August) and we were very disappointed to find it very badly overgrown.  It is just about impossible to see, let alone identify, the winding hole and the footpaths a seriously encroached upon by shrubs, weeds and brambles. Around the winding hole there are many trees growing along the edge of the water, and a mass of reeds has started to take over.  Unfortunately this is what happens when a completed project has no proper maintenance system set in place.  The Trust is aware of the situation and hopefully it will be remedied in the near future.  We were not surprised to find that our regular moorer was still there, taking advantage of a free and secluded spot.
                                                                                                  Click here for pictures

June 24th 2017

Grove Extravaganza

     The Wantage Events Team were out in force on Saturday showing the flag on the Grove Rugby Football Ground which is adjacent to the Elm Farm section of our canal.  This is a surprisingly big event and was very busy with plenty to entertain both young and old, with entertainments carrying on until late at night.


June 6th 2017

    Great news for Latton: today we received a magnificent donation from Wayland Estates.  This continues their support for the project which is not only preserving the historic site but also enhancing the area for Cricklade residents and the many visitors attracted by the circular walks and North Meadow every year.  We are very grateful for their trust in the project which now secures our work for the next year. Next Latton Work Party is Thursday 18th June 2017.

May 15th 2017

A bit better news about Latton Basin today.  Work can still carry on until further discussions between WBCT Chairman and representatives of the LBP have taken place.

May 9th 2017 

     A Black Day for the Latton Basin Project.  We were informed today by the CEO of WBCT that they are withdrawing their support for the project and, therefore, insurance cover has been removed. This means that all work at the Basin has to cease.  After working there for over eleven years this is a great blow to the Team.  If this decision is ratified by the WBCT Trustees then the site will revert to its original very overgrown condition. All the goodwill with the local residents and various groups who have funded the work will be lost.

We await a final decision.

For up to the minute news from around our Canal and River system visit

Narrowboat World

April 25th 2017

click for photos

     Another sunny day and John Minns and I were out with our cameras again recording the canal for posterity!  Top lock is still sealed off. I noticed that the old lock cottage has had some more excavating undertaken; I assume that a local archaeologist is recording the detail.  Between the locks and Double Bridge all is looking good. We came across a workparty removing the last bund, leaving the complete stretch clear until just before the bridge. The spoil from the bund is being used to reinforce the bank. Beyond the bridge the route to the Reybridge draw bridge site is straightforward (given landowner permission) and then it's on towards the Bell Inn.
   Plenty of wildlife, fish (Rudd?), moorhens and ducks, with an abundance of wildflowers. I have always said that this will be one of the most attractive sections of the canal, especially where it has views over the Avon.

click here for photos

April 23rd 2107
Friends of Foxham 

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    It had been several years since I had last walked the complete length of the Foxham section of the canal, so on Sunday, along with Jan Flanagan, I decided it was time to rectify this.  It would also give us an opportunity to see the state of the section now that the Foxham & Lyneham Branch of the canal trust had been disbanded by the WBCT (the reason for this is still unclear).
    Initially the canal appeared much as before with plenty of water, and, surprisingly, many hundreds of fish (Rudd?).  Past the two rebuilt bridges and on to Jack Dalbys Memorial seat all was much as expected. Jacks memorial milestone on the opposite bank is in a sorry state, the stone is crumbling and the inscription is unreadable.  And then, unexpectedly, a boat in the water and a group of workers.  It turns out that these were several of the old F&L Branch members who were unwilling to see all their efforts going to waste.  They are now called the 'Friends of Foxham' and they are working with the local landowners and are continuing with their restoration work.
    After an informative chat with with them, we carried on for a short distance, and after passing a obstructing hedge we were stopped in our tracks...............
                                                  Last time I had to almost fight my way to the end.  This time it was a fully dredged and profiled length of canal with an excellent towpath, and a good depth of water all the way up to the next bridge, and even several metres beyond.

    Looking beyond the end of the section towards the site of Woodcommon Lock one realises just how easy it would be to connect to Dauntsey; there are no roads, only tracks and no major obstacles.
     Just to complete a perfect visit the hedge from Foxham Bottom Lock to Top Lock had been trimmed and for the first time I was able to view the remains of Bottom Lock and the canal bed.

Click here for pictures


April 18th 2017
Challow Lease

     In the last week after much effort by our gallant Land Team the Trust has acquired a 30 year lease over 1km of canal, representing almost all the pound between East and West Challow. Restoration of the canal here will take some years and will involve construction of a weir and at least one lift bridge. Much preparatory work remains to be done but this is the best news we have had in the Wantage area for many years!

April 10th 2017
Kath Hatton

Kath Hatton, pictured in 2012 receiving the 'Queens Award for Volunteers' on behalf of the Trust, has resigned and retired from the WBCT Executive Committee.  She will be a great loss to the restoration as she has been a tireless and prolific fundraiser for the Trust.

April 1st 2017

Weymoor Bridge

            Great News!  Weymoor Bridge has been completed. Thanks to an unexpectedly large party of Chinese volunteer 'WRGies' who are over here to investigate some our stranger activities.  They pitched in with typical Chinese enthusiasm, completing the work in record time.

click image for picture

March 22nd 2017
Swindon - New Eastern Villages

      You may have heard about this proposed development of up to 8000 houses on the flood plane east of the A419 and just south of the A420.  The new route of the restored W&B canal passes through this area and the Trust is keen to ensure that the flood protection benefits of the canal are fully understood.

A technical note, which was produced in 2016, explains in some detail how the canal can be integrated.

click image to open pdf

11th March 2017
Vale of the White Horse Local Plan

     Mike Matthews has found these policy statements from Vale of the White Horse that make re-assuring reading.


Click image for full size view.


9th March 2017
Sack House

The Sack House, on Wantage Wharf, is open from April 1st to the end of October on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays and Saturdays of each of month from 10 am - 2 pm,
Please contact the chairman for more information.
Brian Stovold (telephone 07946 524928 email

(They are always looking for more Sack House volunteers)

        This small building stood at the entrance to the canal wharf. It was used as a weighbridge, office, coal merchants and dates back to soon after the canal was built into Wantage around 1810. There are various canal artefacts on display  as well as information displays about the industrial archaeology of the wharf area, e.g. not just the canal but also the Wantage Tramway and the Mill. 

March 9th 2017

        Luke Walker today announced his resignation from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, citing irreconcilable differences with the Trust management as his reason.  It is a great pity that the project has lost a member who has been, over very many years, a driving force behind the marvellous work carried out in the Foxham, Dauntsey and Seven Locks areas. Luke has also served as a director and Vice-Chairman of the Trust. With others, he had hoped to reform the suspended 'Foxham and Lyneham Branch', but this was not possible, and the branch remains suspended for the foreseeable future.

February 16th 2017
Latton Basin

        The "Latton Basin Restoration" project is now officially part of the East Vale Branch, although we are still awaiting the Lease renewal. This should make no difference to what is being done at the Basin. Our first work party of the year was very successful.  The area over the old River Churn Aqueduct was cleared of all the scrub to provide a much more pleasant experience for walkers. We also completely stripped out the cabin before installing new shelving and then neatly repacking everything.  The work on Weymoor bridge has not yet restarted.

Next Latton Workparty March 16th

11th January 2017
Canal bed either side of A4 near Chippenham

click image for slide show

Dickensian Evening
Friday 2nd December

Wantage Branch members out in force.
Click image for slide show.

11th January 2017
Templars Firs re-aligning track

click image for slide show

28th November 2016
Studley Grange update

It is looking good now, click the picture for a slideshow.

October 2016
Semington Mural is attracting interest at the old Junction.

Paul Lenaerts and his team have taken on the task of upgrading the W&B
profile at the junction. The mural is painted on the bricked up
entrance to the old canal.


Santa Cruises on Dragonfly start in November.
Click image for details.

Santa Cruise is very popular on the restored Westleaze section of canal.
Trips now start from the new landing stage outside Waitrose, where
there is a very nice cafe.

Work to complete the Studley Grange
section starts this week.

The work on this high-profile project had to stop last year due to the
weather conditions and contractual problems.