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Doug Small's Latest News................

21st January 2021

Chris Naish RIP

A message from Peter Scatchard, Chairman, Abingdon & East Vale Branch.....

"I’ve just had the very sad news that our past-Secretary, Chris Naish, who was being treated for the after-effects of Covid 19 re-contracted the disease in Abingdon Hospital, and died on 14Jan21.

I’ve not been told when the funeral it to take place, and in any case it is for family only.

I am arranging for flowers from the local W&BCT members – if you would like to contribute to this, please let me know asap, together with the sum you’d like to contribute. I will make the necessary arrangements, including payment, and let you know where your contribution-payment can be made.

Chris was the only person I know who managed to make Minutes entertaining!! He used his at times caustic, sly, always self-deprecating humour to spice the often dry matters at hand to provide entertainment, but never to the detriment of the essential information needing to be imparted. A very clever trick, and one it would be very difficult to emulate, certainly not in Chris’s inimical style.

Fare thee well, dear Chris, on your last, long navigation – you will be sore missed.


If you would like further details


          I've known Chris for nearly 30 years and he was certainly 'one of a kind', fluent in Latin his proof reading made having your literary efforts scrutinised something to be enjoyed just reading his comments.  Chris was an active Trust member from way back, at one time General Secretary to the old Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group. To echo Peters words he will be 'sore missed'. Doug



Not everything for 2021 is depressing.









is now a

Charitable Incorporate Organisation

CIO No: 1192965

as from Monday 4th January 2021.  

        Whose aims are "For the public benefit to maintain, repair and preserve the canal at Latton Basin, and in particular, but not exclusively, to clear and reinstate the towpath and canal bed between the Basin and the River Thames as a public amenity and to advance public education in the history and use of the canal at Latton Basin.”

Progress so far:

  1. Public & Employee Insurance in force.
  2. Corporate Member of  IWA.
  3. Web Site on line
  4. Memorandum of  Understanding signed with Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

Not bad for two weeks!


8th September 2020

Rumour has it................

   I've heard that Peter Scatchard is returning to active duty as the new Chair of the combined East Vale/Abingdon branch of WBCT.

   This is very good news for the volunteers in Wantage and generally for WBCT.  Pete is a former chair of the old Amenity Group and led it with dedication and enthusiasm through those early years.

Welcome back

Peter  (left) with Neil Rumbol


28th August 2020

Latton Work Parties Resume

   We finally restarted our work at Latton Basin (26th August), two years after circumstances beyond our control forced us to cease operations after being there for over twelve years.  Many of the original team turned up plus some more recent volunteers.  We made a start on clearing the weeds and brambles that had taken over.

     Sadly we were without Roy Murrell.  This was the day of his funeral and because of the Government restrictions we were unable to attend.  But we took a moment to remember Roy...........

24th August 2020

Roy Murrell

Unfortunately, due to the restrictions placed upon us by the pandemic, we cannot attend Roy’s funeral on 26th August.

But there will be a live webcast that you can watch online.

Go to…

Enter Username               Jexu4605

Password                            023150

Broadcast starts at 09.55 until 10.45 am.

If you wish to test it beforehand to prove it works, follow above instructions and you will see the test page.

20th August 2020
Roy Murrell

    In the early hours of Thursday 6th August my very good friend passed away.  Roy will be known to many in the canal world for his great enthusiasm and boundless energy, which for more than 30 years he devoted to restoring the Wilts & Berks Canal.

    Based in the East Vale (Wantage) Branch of WBCT he soon became the driving force behind not only the regular work parties but also promoting the restoration at various events.  It was at one of these events in 1993 (IWA National at Peterborough) that I casually mentioned to those manning the old Amenity Group stand that I had thought of maybe attending a work party.  Following Wednesday I was at the Wantage Branch meeting and on Saturday I was at my first work party and that continued until 2018.

    Roy will be greatly missed by all his friends, and our thoughts go out to Barbara and the Family.

    Roy’s funeral will be on 26th August at 10 o’clock at the South Oxfordshire Memorial Park and Crematorium.

    Please be aware that Government guidelines restrict the number of attendees.





3rd August 2020

It's been two (too) long years

but we're back.

    We have been given a License to Work at Latton Basin.  This will give us a chance to undo the two years nature has run wild there and bring the site back to excellent condition it was in before we were forced to cease operations in 2018.

   Many things have changed.  'Latton Basin Restoration' is now part of the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust, who provide all of our Insurance cover and generally oversee our project.  We have new landowners (Welcom Trust/Farmcare) and new land agents.

  We are now negotiating for a long lease that will allow us to concentrate on our main project; the infrastructure around the Basin.

  There is plenty to do prior to our first work party.  Not only does all the equipment need to be tested (especially the tea urn), but we also need to ensure all PPE regulations are met.  I also have to contact all of the team members to see who is still available.

    If anybody is interested in joining us then please get in touch.  No experience necessary.

email Doug


10th March 2020

Latton Basin

Always look on the Bright Side

Not a mantra that's been easy to follow at Latton over the last 18 months,

but it is now expected that work will soon resume at the Basin.

    Negotiations are now proceeding which will, hopefully, see us back working in the next few weeks.  Although the break has set us back, it has not done any un-reversable harm. Last summers growth has died back and this years has not yet got underway.    

    Our project is now under the wing of the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust which provides all the necessary insurance cover and oversees our operation.  They have also provided us with a new 22 inch, two speed heavy duty mower and a Stihl strimmer.  So we will have plenty of equipment to quickly restore the site to what it was.  Team members will be pleased to know that the three giant, and dangerous, willows by the Mill Leat have been pollarded.

     During our enforced layoff, a small team has been working on the corner of the Basin owned by the cottage, repairing it and making it safe.



We had a walk round last Friday.  As expected the surrounding fields were underwater, although the canal bed remains dry.

6th March 2020


7th March 2020
Diana Smurthwaite's funeral will be on Monday 16th March at 12:40 at Torbay Crematorium,
Hele Road, Torquay TQ2 7QG.
   The wake will be at the Dolphin Hotel, 1A Station Road, Bovey Tracey TQ13 9AL from about 2pm onwards.  It's about 12 miles away, and is a regular meeting place for Di's letterboxing friends and the Devon Rural Skills Trust.
   This will be a celebration of Di's life, so Rachael asks that we please wear cheerful and bright colours.
   Please tell me (Dave Wedd) if you are planning to come, so that Rachael will have some idea of numbers.  If I receive more info, I'll email those who have booked.
   The advice from the crematorium is to arrive for 12:30 latest, as there are a lot of services that day, and there is a limited amount of parking space and you might need to park out on the main road. 
   Directions (pasted from crematorium website)..........
       BY CAR Follow signs from end of M5 Motorway to Torquay. At the large (Penn Inn) roundabout continue straight across onto the A380 following the signs to Torquay. Continue along A380 through Kingskerswell.
   You will then come to a roundabout, continue straight across at roundabout and you will then join the A3022, which is a dual carriageway called Riviera Way. At the third set of traffic lights turn left into Hele Road (B3199). At these lights you will see on your left Curry's.
   The Cemetery and Crematorium entrance is situated on your left hand side approx. 1/4 mile.
 (The nearest railway station is Torre, about 1.2 miles south of the Crematorium.)"

20th February 2020

We have had the following sad news from Dave Wedd of BITM.

"Di Smurthwaite passed away at 1 am this morning [15th February].  As many of you will be aware, Di had been battling terminal cancer since about 2014, not long after her 80th birthday celebrations, and despite this was still coming out on site with us until last February, by which time she was getting increasingly frail. 
 Di's last dig, joining us for meals (and crossword puzzle solving) at the accommodation although not on site,was last November on the Wey and Arun.  

 Please hold Rachael, and Di's family and friends, in your thoughts at this very sad time."


15th January 2020
Ray Denyer

    I have only just received the very sad news that Ray Denyer passed away on  6th December 2019. His funeral took place on 20th December and a Wake was held on 11th January 2020.

      I met Ray when I became Publicity Officer for the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group in the mid 1990s, and Ray was a director of the group.  It soon became obvious that Ray was one of those energetic background people who kept everything on track. Clearly analytical in approach and assuring that all Ts were crossed and Is dotted.  

      It was of no surprise to me that even amongst my thousands of pictures I could only find a very few of Ray.

Council meeting in Swindon 

11th January 2020
Wichelstowe plans

Work is progressing with urbanisation around the canal at Wichelstowe.

click image for full size

26th December 2019

    It has been a very frustrating year as far as our Latton Basin project is concerned.  In June, after a meeting with Farmcare's land agent we were promised that a long lease was possible and it would possibly be in place by the end of August. 

     Unfortunately this never materialised.  Although we are assured that a lease will be offered we have just been given the reason for the delay.

    Apparently the newly built Weymoor Bridge is UNSAFE, and to grant us a lease at present would be giving us permission to use an UNSAFE bridge.


    This is rather confusing as the owners of the house, all the visiting tradesmen and the local farmer are using it!!  Also, there is a public footpath over the bridge.

    Needless to say we will now have to follow this up with the land agent and with Cotswold Canal Trust who built the bridge.

    We have now been off site for about eighteen months, and if this continues much longer the whole area will once again be overgrown.  We can only hope that local residents and visitors will appreciate that the deterioration is beyond our control.

22nd August 2019


     John and I stopped to have a look at progress.  'Dragonfly' is now running from Waitrose again, the new (expensive looking) bridge is open and the pub was busy.


Slide Show


3rd July 2019

Partnership web site

After being off-line for some days, the Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership web site has returned.

29th June 2019


The Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership web site is off line.

I couldn’t access it yesterday and it still unavailable today.


You try:   and let me know if it's back.

     Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice

26th June 2019

Are we Missing Something?

Well Yes!  We seem to have misplaced a canal.

     Wilts & Berks enthusiasts who are regular users of Open Street Maps will have been used to following the line of the canal easily on these maps.

    But no more.  John went to have a look at the map today and it's not there.  It seems that nearly all mention of the old canal has been removed.  Is this a glitch?  Is it being updated?  Or is it permanently deleted?

We are making enquiries.
click on map to have a look....


21st June 2019


    We had a very positive and productive site meeting on Wednesday (19th) with Farmcares land agent.  If all goes well we may be back in business at the Basin by August with a long lease, which will allow us to do comprehensive forward planning.

    As we knew would happen, the weeds and grass have taken full advantage of our absence, although the area around the Basin has been kept mowed.

     Weymoor Bridge is edging towards completion, with the tarmac due to be laid in August.


2nd May 2019

Keith Walker's Funeral

   Helen Thomas has sent out the following...

"Dear All

    Some of you may already know that Keith Walker, a longtime member of Swindon branch of the canal trust, died on Easter Sunday after a year of declining health.  To the end he remained interested in our canal and full of ideas about improving it.

    His funeral will be on May 23rd at 2pm at the new crematorium close to junction 16 of the M4.  All friends are invited to attend the service and the gathering afterwards at the Churchill Hotel, on the same road towards RWB.The family have asked that only family flowers are on the coffin but any donations in memory of Keith may be made to either the British Heart Foundation or the Alzheimer's Society."

North Wiltshire Crematorium
Swindon Road,
Royal Wootton Bassett,


29th April 2019

Keith Walker

        I've just heard that another of our good friends sadly passed away on 21st April.  No one will ever know just how much is owed to Keith (and Maureen) for advancing the restoration of the canal.  Right from the earliest days, Keith was willing to get involved. Attending festivals in his caravan with a display marquee, giving talks, a director of W&BCAG, researching the old canal, organising festivals, forming the Swindon Branch, 'Santa' on the 'Find Santa' trips, Token Ton, setting up the exibition at Lackham, skippering the boat, setting up and staffing the Swindon shop, as well as attending work parties, and much, much more.

Keith was always willing to help in any way and will be missed by everyone.


15th April 2019

Melksham Link


click image for pdf

5th April  2019

New WWRT video


WWRT web site

4th April 2019

Situations Vacant @ WBCT

      Jonathan Till resigned as CEO of WBCT on 31st March and has been replaced by Andrew Matters (who is the current Head of Engineering and Compliance), who agreed to cover the position temporarily whilst the Board of Trustees seek a permanent replacement.  He joins the current Chairman of WBCT who is also only filling that position on a temporary basis.

   Shelia Wade has also resigned as Treasurer and as a Trustee and also from involvement with the Executive Committee.  Rod Bluh will take over the function of Treasurer.

   Patricia Clements has resigned her position as Head of Comms on the Executive, remaining as Admin Head and Head of Fundraising.

1st April 2019
We had a walk around Latton last Friday.  The grass and weeds are still of a manageable length but will now start to grow vigorously with the warmer weather.  We are still waiting for the land agent to give us permission to re-start our work.  Hopefully, before the end of April.

Slide show


28th March 2019
Changes at WBCT

    WBCT CEO, Jonathan Till, has announced that he will be stepping down from the post at the end of March 2019. An unconfirmed report indicates that Andrew Matters will be replacing him. Rumours indicate that there may also be changes in the lineup of WBCT Trustees.

26th February 2019

WWRT update


    The AGM of the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust on the 9th of February was well attended.  As per the Charity Commission rules all existing Trustees had to stand down, and nominations for the new board would be taken and voted upon.
     WWRT constitution allows for up to 20 Trustees.
    Eight people put themselves forward, including one of the previous board, and all were elected unanimously.


Carsten Drew                            Chair & Membership
Sue Paine                                   Treasurer
Vaughan Welch
Andrew Chapman
Janet Flanagan
Rachael Banyard
John Minns
Doug Small

Over the next few weeks various roles will be assigned to the Trustees.

In the meantime, the main focus will be on increasing the membership.
      Everyone can help with this; membership forms can be downloaded from the website.


4th February 2019

    We visited the new Hall & Woodhouse pub at Wichelstowe on Sunday.  The place was heaving with people who seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The interior is fitted out in a canal theme, and will be interesting to explore when it is not so busy.


Slide Show


27th January 2019

Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust


Chairmans statement::

Hi All

Just to break the good news that our application to Awards for All for £10,000 was successful.  The money should pop up on our account shortly, and we're OK to share the good news straightaway.

The items we're to spend the money on are:
Two pedestrian mowers
Box trailer with our branding on it
Two flexidrive brush cutters

For those who, like me, need to see something 'real' about this, see below.

Best regards

Dear Luke Henry Walker 
Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust 

Project ID: 0010348786 
Project name: Waterway restoration and publicity kit 

Thank you for your application to National Lottery Awards for All. 
Your application has now been assessed and considered for funding. Please see the attached letter for our decision.
You can find details of who to contact if you have any questions in the attached letter. Please don't reply to this email as we don't read messages sent to this email address.

Julie Galano
Head of Funding 
Big Lottery Fund



26th January 2019
Friends of Foxham

    Over the weekend of the 19th/20th January, which was cold and wet, an intrepid joint WRG/BITM and Friends of Foxham work camp was held on the recently restored section of canal leading up to the Elephant spillweir (which they have recently repaired).  Their project was to plant a new hedge of Blackthorn on the off side of the canal.  


Slide show


10th December 2018

Sue Solves the Mystery



   Speculation over the origin of the gates at the entrance to the new pub at Wichelstowe never came close to the real answer.  Fortunately Sue took the logical approach and asked the company Hall & Woodhouse, and received this very nice reply from Debbie.

Dear Mrs Paine
                  We got them from a reclamation yard in Skelmersdale, near Liverpool. The gates are originally from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which links the cities and covers a distance of 127 miles. It crosses the Pennines and includes 91 locks on the main line.

Kind regards


6th December 2018

………….and it’s goodbye from him.

(with apologies to the Two Ronnies)


   After thirty years I have decided that it is now time to end my association with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.  The management attitude of the current incumbents towards volunteers has forced this upon me.  They regard dedicated volunteers as grass cutting, litter picking tin shakers and this is not what I joined for.

   This also means that I have relinquished the role of Trust Archivist.

    WBCT seems to have lost its way.  Work on the Melksham link has still not yet started, serious doubts as to whether or not provision for the canal under the M4 will be made, severe financial problems and a canal side pub and visitor centre where there is no access to the canal.  All this, combined with the deterioration of previously restored sites does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Trust to deliver.

   Fortunately, my involvement at Latton Basin will probably continue, for, although WBCT have ceased to support the project, Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust is negotiating with the landowners to continue the work.

    I will also continue to assist researcher Jan Flanagan in her mammoth task of ferreting out every known fact about the old canal and the people who worked on it.

Doug Small

2nd December 2018

Wichelstowe developments

 I've been sent these pictures by Sue showing progress down by Waitrose's.
Her informant says that the boat appears to by real, and not a mock up, as are the gates.


Slide show


30th November 2018

Partnership March 2018
summary of W&B situation.

 I've just been sent this.  I know it's a few months old but you may want to read it.

I'm not sure it says anything new.

alt  click here.

30th November 2018

Peterborough Arms

     Although I have not seen any official announcement, it would appear that the Peterborough Arms is opening for business on Sunday (2nd December).
       We wish them well.  The years of hard work by the dedicated VOLUNTEERS deserves success.


22nd November 2018

WBCT - More changes at the top

    As announced at the October AGM, Rod Bluh is stepping down as Chair.  It has now been confirmed that Brian Stovold (Trustee and East Vale Branch Chair) has been appointed to the post for the next six months whilst a new chair is sought.

       Click here to download WBCT statement.

1st November 2018

Swindon Shop statement


The Trust Information Centre at 1 Theatre Square, Swindon has been closed with effect from Saturday 27 October
while plans are made for its future refurbishment. 
Information, as well as merchandising stock, is available from the Dauntsey Lock Canal and Community Centre,
Dauntsey Lock, SN15 4HD. 
Phone the Trust Office on 0845 625 1977 for more information and the opening times of the
Dauntsey Lock Canal and Community Centre.

29th October 2018


I've just been sent these pictures of our showpiece site at Wichelstowe taken earlier this month.
No comment necessary.


Slide show...


1st October 2018
John Holloway
     I have to report that our very good Friend John Hollway passed away last night.  John has been a loyal supporter of the Wilts & Berks Restoration for over 25 years, and although unwell in recent years he always made an effort to join us on work parties, accompanied by his dog (Jensen in the early days and currently Stanley).
    John was also a supporter of numerous other restoration groups and we spent much time exploring their work sites. He also supported numerous canal events (including many IWA Nationals) spending many days on site with his caravan.
   When the Latton Basin Restoration Group was formed in 2005 he was part of of the original enthusiastic team, and remained so over the years.
He will be missed.
Doug Small



John Holloway’s funeral will be on Tuesday 23rd October at 1.15.

It will be held at:-

Chilterns Crematorium
Whielden Lane

10th October 2018

Vic Miller

    I have only just heard that another Friend passed away at the beginning of this month.  Vic was an important member of the WBCAG and WBCT for many years, serving on the Council of Management for much of the time.  An enthusiatic restorer in the Royal Wootton Bassett area,  he was also a stalwart at Waterways Festivals around the country; either helping us to man the displays or promoting the canal using his boat 'Nonsuch'.  

Vic with Lord Lansdowne at the helm of 'Nonsuch'.

Vic’s funeral is at 2 pm on Monday 22nd of October at the New Crematorium
and after at the Wiltshire Hotel and Golf club. 
Contact Jenny Stratton for more details

1st October 2018
John Holloway

     I have to report that our very good Friend John Holloway passed away last night.  John has been a loyal supporter of the Wilts & Berks Restoration for over 25 years, and although unwell in recent years he always made an effort to join us on work parties, accompanied by his dog (Jensen in the early days and currently Stanley).

    John was also a supporter of many other restoration groups and we spent much time exploring their work sites. He also supported numerous canal events (including many IWA Nationals) spending many days on site with his caravan.

   When the Latton Basin Restoration Group was formed in 2005 he was part of the original enthusiastic team, and remained so over the years.

He will be missed.

Doug Small

September 25th 2018

Welcome Statement

  At the launch meeting of WWRT a statement from WBCT was read out which was very much appreciated by those present....

"The Trustees of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust welcome the newest restoration Trust to join our community.

WBCT Trustees wish the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust Trustees and members a successful inaugural meeting and welcome their intention to co-operate with our Trust in our restoration work."

September 25th 2018


(In spite of the atrocious weather conditions)

Trust Chairperson, Luke Walker.......

  "Saturday afternoon, 22 September, was the date of the public launch of the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust at Bushton Village Hall in Wiltshire.  It was a full house – somewhere between 50 and 60 people from as far afield as Bath and Wantage were there.  I felt that the event came together very smoothly – we’re a new organization.  The road signs were up at least an hour before the meeting was due to start, banners, display boards, presentation equipment and PA kit were all being set up by the time Justine and I arrived at about 12.30.  Justine acted as deputy to Ann O’Donoghue with a table with membership forms and pens for people to join us on the day.

  Jan Flanagan started the proceedings with the usual welcome and pointed out the fire exits, and then introduced a shortened form of a professional video – where consent had been obtained and WWRT people had done the work to achieve this 15-minute presentation explaining how volunteers working on waterway restoration emerged and expanded alongside the Inland Waterways Association’s movement bringing old waterways back into use for public benefit and enjoyment.

  The main presentation was a relaxed, occasionally light-hearted presentation focussing on the dates of the key events which have made the launch of WWRT possible.  It would be interesting to be able to compare our launch event with what the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group did when they were formed about 40 years ago.  It was clear that WWRT has come a long way in not many months.  We got things together in time to attend our first IWA Waterways Festival, at St Neots, in August, including our colour membership leaflet with a GDPR-compliant membership application form.

  I was able to present our first three projects on the ground – illustrated with pictures supplied by Doug Small, who had done a fine job transforming my few thoughts and a list of dates into a very smooth and easy-to-follow illustrated presentation.  The presentation mentioned the dialogue we have already established with the Cotswold Canals Trust (our neighbours at Latton).

  There was a good questions and answers session – including Nadia Smith asking about the relationship with the WBCT, and Eddie Thomas (WBCT Trustee) reading out their recent published statement welcoming our formation.  I was pleased to be able to report on how we made WBCT aware of our formation very promptly after hearing from the Charity Commission that they had allowed us to form.  If they had not, there would not be WWRT.  That notification had used the words to complement and not to compete – and it was good to get those words into the launch meeting.

  At the end of my presentation I felt a very warm round of applause, and a good number of people who attended took the opportunity to talk to me about participating in our work parties in the coming months.  I got a very strong sense that many people support what we are seeking to do, and understand why the formation of WWRT is necessary for the restoration of our canals to continue to progress.  A question was raised about the Jubilee Junction area at the eastern end of the canal – and I confirmed that WWRT was very interested in helping to get that area into a good maintenance regime.  Before long, WWRT will be submitting an application to ‘Awards for All’ for funds for a marquee that our publicity team can use when attending events next summer, plus some new powered equipment to make maintenance more effort-efficient plus a smart box trailer (with our logo clearly marked on it) to move that kit around.

  Questions were asked about whether WWRT had access to maintain Rachael Banyard’s sections of the canal at Dauntsey.  Negotiations between WBCT and the landowner are continuing and, hopefully, a positive solution to the current difficulties will soon be found.  In the meantime, the canal and towpath to the east are being maintained by WWRT members with Rachael’s permission.

  When we first discussed having a public launch meeting we wondered if it would prove necessary to arrange a follow-up event on the Oxfordshire end of the canal.  This does not appear to be necessary – several people from the eastern end of the canal made the journey to Bushton and I’m sure they will carry the message and communicate the WWRT vision to their colleagues.

  A particularly welcome message on the Friday evening just before the launch was an email from John Laverick – a Vice President, and former Chair, of the WBCT – welcoming our formation and communicating thoughts which virtually match my thoughts in forming WWRT.  He can see that WWRT can complement what the WBCT does – and that the Wiltshire, Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership should provide the forum where a formal and constructive dialogue can be established between WBCT, WWRT, and the other Partners which will achieve necessary co-ordination.

  I left the event confident in the WWRT people who had put the event together under the leadership of Jan Flan.  My thanks go to Ann, Carsten, Doug, Gary, Jan, Justine, Larry, Michael, Rosemary, Sarah, Sue and Vince.  As Justine and I drove home I felt very privileged to have such a capable and dedicated team on our side.  My sincere thanks go to them all – and to anyone I’ve not mentioned."

September 2nd 2018

Nonsuch sold

September 2nd 2018

Late News

According to their website WBCT members will now have to wait longer for their news if they rely only on the magazine 'Dragonfly' as its periodicity has been reduced from four to two issues per year.

August 31st 2018

Official Launch of WWRT

    The Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust is a new group dedicated to saving our lost waterways and will be officially launched at

Bushton Village Hall,

near Royal Wootton Bassett,


(SN4 7PX)

on the 22nd September at 2 pm.

Click here for details and directions

and full information of the new Trust.

July 22nd 2018
Work at Westleaze

   It had been some time since we last looked to see what progress was being made at Westleaze.  Things seem to be moving fast with the work on the pub and the school (coincidence?) well advanced.  To my disappointment the mauve colour of the school is not permanent, just the wrapping of the cladding.  We can only hope that the work on the canal embankment is a good sign that the problems getting the canal under the M4 are being overcome.

Westleaze 18th July 2018


July 6th 2018
John Allen

     I have just heard the very sad news that John Allen has passed away.  During the 1990s John was a driving force in the old Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group (now WBCT).  Not only did he serve on the Council of Management as a director he also was at one time Vice Chairman under Tony Davy. It is no exaggeration to say that his single-minded approach was a major contributary reason for the success of the restoration of the Templar Firs section.  At the time of the 1998 Trail Boat Festival John was Mayor of (Royal) Wootton Bassett.

        John was one of the many unsung 'heros' of the past to which WBCT owes it existance.  

        John's funeral is at Swindon Crematorium on July 17th at 3 pm.

July 1st 2018

Open Forum 10th July

    In case you missed it WBCT are holding an Open Forum for members.  Here are the invitation details:

        "Our third quarterly Open Forum evening will take place at The Immanuel United Reform Church, Upham Road, Swindon SN3 1DH at 6:30pm on Tuesday 10th July 2018. It will be an opportunity for members to come along to discuss with the management teams any issues of the day, hear about what we are doing and hopefully enjoy a social evening at the same time. If you would like to come to this event, please inform the office by phone on 0845 6251977 between 9:30am and 12:30pm Monday to Friday or email us at so that we have an idea of numbers for seating and refreshments. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 50 people. Swindon residents will be given priority, if there is over-subscription."

July 1st 2018

Dauntsey Lock Canal Centre

   According to their web site WBCT now have planning permission for their canal centre at Dauntsey.  This must be re-assuring for long time members as it proberly indicates that the Trusts funds are now healthy enough to go ahead with this ambitious project.  Although one wonders how they will 'sell' it to the public as a Canal Centre when there is no access to the canal either side of the Peterborough Arms!

June 4th 2018
More cutbacks by WBCT

   The Trust office is now effectively closed.  It is now 'open for a few hours Tuesday and Thursday mornings'.  With the departure of Justine Hanley all continuity has now disappeared.  Patricia Clements is now the point of contact.  As a cost cutting measure they have a new telephone number (0845 625 1977).  It is not clear when the old number will cease to work although it should be on re-direct for some time.

May 12th 2018

Daily Mail-Online headline

Britain’s heroic lifeboat volunteers are drowning in a sea of political correctness imposed by highly-paid pen pushers.

‘I’m sad that it has come to this, but the RNLI caused this mess,’ Hibbs says.
‘They have been unpleasant and confrontational, and treated us volunteers with contempt.’


May 6th 2018

Boat for sale

Your chance to buy 'Nonsuch'.
This is Vic Miller's boat that has been used at many events to promote the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

click image for details

More Info here

May 4th 2018

Can you help

 WBCT are in urgent need of a new editor for the magazine.

      "We are very sad to see John Millican step down as editor of Dragonfly magazine after many years producing our quarterly magazine. John has moved to Northumberland and feels that he is too far away to continue as editor. He will also have his hands full settling in to his new home. John, we wish you all the very best and our enormous thanks for all your hard work and support. John has kindly agreed to be available to help a new editor and the Trust is seeking someone to take over the role. Margaret Lord, who has worked closely with John, will continue to help.
      If you or someone you know would like to take up the role as the Trust’s new editor of Dragonfly and have Desktop Publishing experience, please contact whether you are interested or would just like more information about the position."
From 'On the Button  May 2018'

April 21 2018

Time for a change.

    A year ago WBCT was actively trying to disassociate itself from the Latton Basin Restoration, by suggesting that it formed its own Trust or similar.  At the time this was not a practical suggestion and they fought hard to keep the project going, finally getting the Trustees to agree to retain it as a project as long as it had no financial impact on WBCT.

    LBR has always been self funding and there has never been any financial contribution from WBCT.  Their only involvement is that by having it as a project they are covered by the IWA Insurance scheme, especially as all of the LBR workers are also Trust members.

    Over the years LBR has achieved much to be proud of, and has a good relationship with the local people in the Cricklade area.  Apart from the renovation work being carried out, the work of clearing the canal bed and towpath between the aqueduct and the River Churn is greatly appreciated as it was originally almost impenetrable.  The towpath forms part of a circular walk that includes the Thames & Severn Canal and the Thames path, and many visitors use it to reach North Meadow.

     When, several years ago, the landowners offered WBCT a lease it was taken on by them as a way of protecting the canal line as there is always a possibility that the North Wilts canal may come back on this route.  LBR was only an intermediary and not involved in the transaction itself.  Unfortunately the Trust has not renewed that lease, although they are currently still bound by certain obligations within that agreement.

    It is now obvious to most people involved that the Latton Project no longer features in WBCT scheme of things, who are concentrating on the big projects.

    We now have a way forward that should be acceptable to all.  The new Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust has offered to take on LBR as one of its 'Local Project Teams'.  This will allow LBR to carry on as usual.  IWA insurance will be in place and all H&S protocols will be abided by.  LBR will continue to be completely self funding.

     A point of interest is that the Latton Basin Project fits in exactly with aims of the original Amenity Group.

    LBR are now waiting on WBCT to agree a date for the change.

April 21 2018
Best wishes to Ann

    After many years of unstinting service to the cause Ann O'Donoghue has decided to retire from front line duties.  Along with Justine they have been the friendly face of the WBCT.  Always ready to help and both having great knowledge of the project.  The go to people.  Best wishes for the future Ann, and we still expect to see you around and about the canal.

Ann at Bowood


April 10th 2018
Gazette & Herald report

Former Canal Trust members object to Dauntsey Lock plans

    DISPUTES over land ownership is rocking the restoration work at Dauntsey Lock after a former Wilts and Berks Canal Trust trustee, who owns a stretch of the canal, says she hasn’t been consulted on plans for the Peterborough Arms.
    Rachael Banyard, who bought two miles of the canal in 1994, has said she will not work with the current management of the trust again after they submitted three planning applications to develop the pub and the visitors centre which she believes encroach on her land.
    “The trust has acted disgracefully,” the 72-year-old said. “I bought the land in 1994 but part of the land was unregistered. I worked with the Trust’s volunteers and other local volunteers to help repair and restore the canal but all of that has now been rubbished by the current management.
     “When you submit a planning application, you have to highlight your land in red and the planned development in blue, except the plans are on part of my land. They’ve been totally dismissive of it and have acted in totally inappropriate ways.
     “I no longer have any intention with working with the current management, but I will work with anyone else who wants to restore part of this area’s heritage.”
     The plans, which include the installation of temporary mobile units at the back of the pub and work to the pub have also outraged the former vice chair of the trust.
     “When I stepped down in 2011, I thought I was leaving the Trust in safe hands,” Luke Walker said “We always tried to work with landowners, so that we could build relationships with them to help restore the canal. Except the way they have treated Rachael Banyard is disgusting. Their reaction, which was to stick fences up around the site on land which isn’t even theirs and submit three planning applications, is appalling and they have done it all in the public domain.
     “All they needed to do was ask but they haven’t and now their actions have weakened the prospect of getting the canal back.”
     A spokesman for the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust said: “WBCT has requested planning permission on land that WBCT owns adjacent to Dauntsey Lock to locate our innovative Transitions Project in temporary buildings behind the Peterborough Arms.
    "The Transitions Project has proved a great success, with a number of vulnerable groups and individuals in Wiltshire and Swindon participating in our environment, cultural and art programmes based on the canal that we run for the benefit of the public.
     "WBCT wishes to continue this work when the Peterborough Arms opens commercially in the near future.
     "It is a matter of regret to WBCT that two former members of WBCT are
objecting to the planning permission on the basis of land ownership of the lock itself, which forms no part of our planning application.*
      "WBCT have been in discussion with former owners of the Peterborough Arms and with the joint owners of the canal on either side of the lock, Tina Haines and Rachael Banyard, since January 2017 to help resolve the ownership issue of the lock itself."

*I'm not sure this is correct.
  You can go to Wiltshire Council Planning website for full details.  Click Here to go to the site and then enter the planning application numbers  17/11356   17/11329  and  18/01244 to have a look.



April 7th 2018


     Un-confrmed rumours are circulating that WBCT magazine, Dragonfly, will ceased to be printed after Issue 148 and only be made available electronically.  If true this will be a very big disappointment to all of the members whose only contact with the Trust is via the magazine.  No doubt there will a statement soon to clarify the situation.


April 7th 2018

200 Club

       WBCT are making changes to the running of the 200 Club. Jeff and Lynda, who have successfully run it  for the last seven years have been instructed to hand over the operation to the Trust.  It is not clear just how this will affect the distribution of prizes and donations.  I hope that WBCT have expressed their thanks for all those years of excellent work.

From Dragonfly 147

How it will be administered in the future if the rumours about the magazine are true is not known.

April 7th 2018

Is the Peterborough Arms at Risk?

        It has been brought to my notice that a charge (legal mortgage) has been raised against the Peterborough Arms in respect to outstanding loan committents.  Anyone interested in the detail can find information on Companies House web site, from where the pdfs can be viewed.

March 25th 2018

Membership Fees

    WBCT have increased their membership fees, something that has not happened for a number of years.  You now get multiple choices of amounts to be paid monthly.

click for details

March 21st 2018

Open Forum Evening at Dauntsey

Invitatation from WBCT to all members.

             "Our second quarterly open forum evening will take place at the Peterborough Arms at Dauntsey Lock, near Lyneham, Wilts. SN15 4HD at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 10th April 2018.  It will be an opportunity for members to come along to discuss with the management team any issues of the day, to hear about what we are doing and, hopefully, enjoy a bit of a social evening at the same time.  If you would like to come to this event, please inform the office by 'phone on 08452 - 268567 between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm Monday through Friday or e-mail us at so that we have an idea of numbers for seating and refreshment purposes.
  If you have any questions you would like to raise, it would be most helpful if you could send them in advance to the
above e-mail address."
If you have a question then this is your opportunity to get it answered.

March 20th 2018

It's all happening at the Peterborough Arms

A Flurry of Planning Applications

     Finally things must be looking up for the Trust, as these ambitious plans will be rather expensive to implement.  

   Visit Wiltshire Council Planning website for full details.  Click Here to go to the site and then enter the planning application numbers......

        Application number   17/11356

               Application number   17/11329

                   Application number    18/01244


March 8th 2018

Sir William McAlpine
(Sad news from WBCT)

    It is with much sadness that I report our President, Sir William McAlpine passed away on 4th March. He had been unwell for the past few months. 
    Our thoughts and prayers are with Lady McAlpine and his family and I will be sending our condolences to them all. 
    Sir William was a director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd for more than fifty years. He was Chairman of: The Railway Heritage Trust - The Dart Valley Railway - Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway - SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine – Railnews - SONE (Supporters of Nuclear Energy). Sir William was a Governor of Shiplake College and President of the Transport Trust and other organisations. Sir William had served for several terms on the ZSL Council (Zoological Society London) and was on the Development Committee. He accepted the Presidency of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust as an extension of his interest in historic transport and was well known for his railway interests, including ownership of the Flying Scotsman locomotive, which he later sold.
    He was also well known for his personal motto: “Life is not a rehearsal”
  Since becoming our President in June 2015 Sir William has made many helpful contributions to our mission, including engaging with the Swindon & Cricklade Railway Trust to explore a joint project with our Trust to connect Swindon to Cricklade. Given Sir William's railway interests it is sad that he will no longer to able to pursue this exciting idea with us.

It was a privilege to work with him albeit for too short a time. 
May he rest in peace. 
Roderick Bluh
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

February 26th 2018

Boats to Bassett

     Following on from the 1998 IWA/WBCAG trailboat Festival at Templars Firs, a second festival (Wessex Waterways Festival) was held in 2002.  Looking at my pictures and videos from that time it seems that we have achieved a lot but not really progressed.  Sixteen years on and where are all the boats, where are the people having fun!  The children in my pictures are grown up, and many of the adults are no longer with us.

    Time is passing too quickly.  We must get boats back on the water. This means looking for restorable stretches of canal a mile or more in length and getting them used by boats (of any type), walkers, fishermen etc..  The name of the original WBCAG included the word 'Amenity' and we seem to have mislade it.

Click image for video


February 22nd 2018
Sparsholt Bridge
SU 34752 88773

    After all the years of  exploring and photographing the canal, there are still places I've not seen.  Thanks to Steve Clements I now have pictures of a site totally unknown to me.  A bridge on the bridleway from Sparsholt to South Farm.

Slide show


February 16th 2018

A 'Long and Winding Road'

    The restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal is a massive undertaking with many, many obstacles to be overcome.  For many years the various Branches of WBCT have beavered away and have achieved some remarkable progress.  Major projects, such as the Melksham Link, are also underway.

     But, to me, there has always been an area that has, to a great extent, been ignored.  That is the road crossings that will require mega amounts of paperwork and money.

      A count up of these crossings on the main line of the canal alone is about 50.  So I thought I would itemise them.

               So if you are interested in the locations, with pictures. click the image.....


February 16th 2018

   Thanks to Mike Matthews for this latest picture of the work at Wichelstowe.

February 13th 2018

Leptospirosis, also called Weil's disease.
A reminder!

click image for leaflet pdf

Leptospirosis is spread in the pee of infected animals – most commonly rats, mice, cows, pigs and dogs.

You can catch it if:

  • soil or freshwater (such as from a river, canal or lake) containing infected pee gets in your mouth, eyes or a cut – usually during activities like kayaking, outdoor swimming or fishing
  • you touch an infected animal's blood or flesh – usually from working with animals or animal parts

It's very rare to get leptospirosis from pets, other people or bites.

For more information here...


February 13th 2018

Bye, Bye Baby Blue

    It has just been announced that our small tractor is to be sold 'to boost Trust Funds'.  A great pity as we have more and more lengths of towpath to keep trimmed.

February 10th 2018

All is becoming clear.
(I think)

    Whilst we have yet to have a clear statement regarding the curious events surrounding the fencing of Dauntsey Lock, the fog is lifting slightly now the contents of Planning application 1711329FUL, dated 16/11/2017 and submitted on 1/2/2018, are perused.  It would appear, from the documents submitted, that WBCT are convinced that they now own the lock.  Yet this is at odds with the letter attached to fencing, dated 27th December 2017, stating that ownership was either by WBCT or the Barnes family.

     But I am informed by Rachael Banyard, that she still is, and always has been, the owner of the lock as it was purchased per "the land boundaries that were agreed when the canal and lock were purchased in1994" and "the boundaries agreed with Wadworth brewery who bought the pub in 2004".

2018 application

click image for larger view


2013 application

click image for larger view

It will be interesting to follow the comments made about this
and the outcome at the end of March 2018.

January 27th 2018

Are you bored waiting for the weather to improve?

    Then why not visit 'George's' canal pages.  This web site has been running for nearly 25 years without a break. It is basically just multiple listings of almost anything you can think of to do with our canals, but can keep you amused for hours.

January 24th 2018

How WBCT is run.

    If, like me, you are confused by how WBCT management is organised, you may find this chart that I have just been sent a help.

......and if you are interested you can follow any changes on the Companies House web site.

January 22nd 2018

        According to 'Companies House' WBCT have lost one of the newly elected Trustees .......

January 14th 2018

Dauntsey Lock Latest!

    If you have been following the saga of Dauntsey Lock then you would have read WBCTs pre-Christmas protestations about lack of time to respond to the letter from Rachael over their encroachment on to her property.  We are now two weeks into the New Year and apparently they have still not made any contact or modified the fencing.

    It has now been reported to me that Rachael and a colleague spent three hours yesterday (Saturday) removing the offending fencing and repositioning it as per "the land boundaries that were agreed when the canal and lock were purchased in1994" and "the boundaries agreed with Wadworth brewery who bought the pub in 2004".

   Whilst the work was in progress support for its removal was expressed by at least two of the pubs neighbours.

   We understand that a letter has now been sent to a solicitor suggesting that it might be appropriate to submit an invoice to WBCT for all the costs involved.

  Hopefully WBCT will clarify the situation at Tuesdays Open Forum.

Slide Show


January 11th 2018

New developement at Westleaze progress.


     After our visit to Jubilee Junction we proceeded to Westleaze to see how things were progressing.  Not surprisingly it was a very muddy worksite.  The canal re-alignment will hopefully allow 72 feet long boats to get under the bridge without bumping into anything.

     The frame of the new school looks complete, and work on clearing the rest of the new housing development is underway.

Click for slide show.

January 11th 2018

Jubilee Junction

    Following up on reports of 'vandalism' down at the Junction, John and I decided to pay it a visit yesterday.  It appears that a local landowner has become exasperated at the Trusts lack of maintenance, and has mowed/flailed the area between the footpath and the cut.  Contrary to what was being shouted about, it has improved the look of the area, and the removal of the scrub will allow, hopefully, the wild flowers etc. to re-establish.  Of course, this is only a temporary solution and a proper maintenance regime needs to be established.

    Also, the large lake on the far side of the path has now been completely fenced: we are assuming this in preparation for it to become another fisherie.

Click for slide show

January 4th 2018
WBCT Forum

    I see from an email sent out by Swindon Branch that WBCT are holding quarterly Forums at the Peterborough Arms, Dauntsey Lock.  The first being at 7pm on January 16th, although you have to book in advance.

"As announced at the AGM, the Trust's first quarterly Open Forum evening will take place at the Peterborough Arms, Dauntsey Lock, SN15 4HD, at 7pm on Tuesday 16th January. It will be an opportunity for anyone to come along, discuss with the management team any issues of the day, hear about what we are doing and hopefully enjoy a bit of a social evening at the same time. If you would like to come to this event, please let the office know by phone on 0845 226 8567 between 9.30 am and 12.30pm Monday to Friday or email"

   A good chance to clear up some of the mis-understandings revolving around issues close to home?

December 29th 2017

Notes on the documents reproduced below.

    On my way to photograph another section of the canal I was passing the Peterborough Arms, so I thought I would have a look at the situation around Dauntsey Lock.  After being involved with canals and restoration for over fifty years I cannot remember being so bemused and disappointed by what I found.  WBCT in conflict with a major landowner (approx 2 miles of adjacent canal) over the ownership of the lock.  What does it matter to the Trust if they own the lock or not if they have no access to the canal and towpath either side of the lock gates.

  • What is going on?
  • Who authorised the attempt to arrogate the land and structure?
  • Was this done with prior permission of the Trustees? 
  • Can the Trust afford the cost of litigation?
  • What connection do the Barnes family have to the situation?
  • Why is the WBCT letter unsigned?
  • Is any of this a good use of Trust resources and finances?

click image for slide show

click image to view original
full text reproduced below

I look forward to reading, and being reassured, either in Dragonfly or on the WBCT web site, of the reasons for the actions being taken in the name of the Trust membership, and that it will not adversley affect the progress of the restoration.


Letters attached to fencing

22-12-2017 (email)

Dear sirs

Re: Land at Dauntsey Lock: Dauntsey

We act for Christina Jane Haines and Rachael Jennifer Banyard who you will be aware are the registered owners of a stretch of canal and adjacent property at Dauntsey including the lock chamber at Dauntsey Lock and Adjacent Land.  Our clients, with volunteers, have excavated and restored the lock.  As well as the registered land our clients have a registered interest in the land at the side of the lock chamber.

We understand that your Trust in early November, without our clients consent, has encroached on to our clients land and has strimmed the lock side grassed area and has erected fencing along the lock chamber.

We are instructed to make an application for the formal registration in our clients' name of the unregistered land in which they have a registered interest.  In the meantime we require you to move the fencing within the next seven days, failing this our clients will arrange removal and debit you with the cost.  For the avoidance of doubt your Trust has no authority to enter on to our clients land without their express consent.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

CBTC Millichips


December 27th 2017

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust (WBCT) received the letter (alongside) from solicitors a few minutes before their office closed until 2 January so there is no way to communicate with them within the period stated.

The Trust's position is that ownership of the lock is either with the Barnes family or WBCT, whose volunteer members carried out work to the lock over many years when its ownership was unknown.

For safety reasons the lock has been fenced, with the knowledge and agreement of the Barnes family, while the true ownership position is established on an amicable basis.  The temporary safety fencing has been supported by local residents.

After the holiday period the Trust will continue to engage with all relevant parties to resolve the lock's future.  In the meantime the safety fencing, provided by the Trust at its own expense, should remain in place.

Wiltshire Police have been informed.  Any unauthorised removal will be reported to the police.  Please phone 08452 268 567 or 07809 374 754 to report any unauthorised removal to the Trust.

PLEASE NOTE:CCTV images are being monitored for the purpose of Crime Prevention and Public Safety.

December 22nd 2017

Studley Grange Walk

Just in case you don't receive WBCT  'On the Button'
I've reproduced details of the guided walk of the site on Boxing Day

Studley Grange

    As you may be aware, the new stretch of canal at Studley Grange near Royal Wootton Bassett might look as if all is ready, but it’s still a ‘Construction Site’, closed to the Public. The site was opened to Trust Members under supervision on the day of the AGM in October.
    The contractors will need to carry out some remedial work next year. In addition, the Canal Trust must carry out some more work before opening. On the towpath side, this work is mainly to provide and erect dog-proof fencing in accordance with legal agreements with local farmers. Also, because the towpath is a ‘dead end’, a new temporary footpath must be created to connect the towpath with the existing public footpath to the rear of Butterfly World. Wiltshire Council has given permission for the new ‘permissive path’, but this will cost us around £12,000. As soon as funding is available, we shall make a start on the footpath and the dog-proof fencing.
    For health and safety reasons, the Trust cannot allow general access to the site, but on Boxing Day morning from 10 till 12, we are opening Studley Grange once more for escorted walks in groups of up to ten people. Parking will be available near the entrance on Bincknoll Lane; it will take about 40 minutes to walk to the end and back, so the last walkers will start before 11:20.
    There will be no charge, but donations will be welcome. Sorry – no dogs are allowed on the site.
For a more challenging walk, why not start at Templar’s Firs Car Park on Marlborough Road? It will take about two hours there and back – so make sure that you start before 10 a.m.
     If you wish to act as a Leader to escort a group, then the more volunteers the merrier.
More information from Steve Bacon, Boxing Day Site Manager, on 07749 215741

December 16th 2017


    Continuing my search for interesting news, I visited the Partnership web site.  I was informed last month that the 'Partnership Officer Blog' was down. So I thought I'd have a look to see if it was back on line yet. 

but it was not.

December 16th 2017

WBCT Upcoming Events

        Whilst trawling the WBCT website for items of interest I came across this listed under TRUST EVENTS....

Couldn't find anything listed for East Vale though!

November 28th 2017
What is going on??

    Today I was given a copy of a letter delivered to all houses at Dauntsey Lock.
  click image for original letter


This is the text in full.........

5 Canal Cottages,
Dauntsey Lock,
SN15 4HD

24th November, 2017

Dear neighbour,

            I am writing to you as one of my neighbours within Dauntsey Lock to apologise for the sudden appearance of fencing around the lock chamber.  The fencing across the Peterborough Arms car park was erected, so I'm given to understand, because the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust (WBCT) is planning some construction work.  However, the fencing around the lock, also erected by them, was not only unnecessary, but is on land not in their ownership.  I bought the land previously owned by Gordon and Ken Barnes from the Receivers in 1994.  I did not realise at the time that some of the land beside the lock was unregistered.

            My purchase of the land was welcomed, at the time, by the Trust.  Recently, though, they claim that a descendant of Gordon and Ken has given them permission to fence the lock, and this was erected without any notification to me.  I am sure you will agree that the fencing is an eyesore.

            In the past 23 years I have spent a considerable sum clearing the site of old tyres and abandoned vehicles before excavating and repairing the lock, as well as clearing the vegetation and dredging the canal.  I was helped by not only volunteers from WBCT but also Waterway Recovery Group.  As a registered charity their objective is to reinstate the complete canal from Semington near Melksham to Abingdon on the Thames.

            When Wadworth bought the pub from John and Rosemary Brown, we resolved the boundary issues at that time, but these were never formally registered.

            My legal adviser has already communicated with the WBCT's Chief Executive to make it clear that I have the right to remove the fences on my land, but he advised caution for the time being.  In the meantime I am in contact with a solicitor to record that land with the Land Registry.

            It does seem surprising that a charity concerned with reinstating a canal with over 400 different landowners is not keen to establish a good relationship with each of those owners.  If you are concerned with their actions, you could raise that concern either with the Charity Commission or with WBCT, email address

            The WBCT were planning to reopen the Peterborough Arms as a community pub in August, but no new date seems to have been set.

            They are expected to make further planning applications covering the deployment of temporary buildings and possibly an extension to the pub, so there will be an opportunity for those of us who live locally to make representations and/or register objections.

            Thank you for your interest and time in reading this letter.  I hope the situation will move quickly towards an amicable resolution - but I did want you all to appreciate that what has been done has been done without the appropriate polite and courteous approach to me.  If you would like any further information, feel free to ring me on 01249-892289 or 07767-895244.

Yours sincerely,

Rachael Banyard.

November 21st 2017

That fence at Dauntsey.

    I've just been sent some pictures, for which I'm very grateful, of the fence at Dauntsey Lock.  It's far more extensive than I expected and completely surrounds the lock. It is also very ugly Heras fencing.
      There is still no official word from WBCT as to the thinking behind this.  We can only assume that it was done with the landowners permission, as we don't think they actually own the lock; although they may prove that to be wrong.


Slide show


November 20th 2017

West Wichelstowe progress.

Slide show


November 18th 2017
It's still a bit of a mystery!

    In spite of making several enquiries it has not been possible to find out exactly what is going on down at Dauntsey.  Apparently the WBCT has erected a fence on the land between the pub and the lock, which has 'annoyed' several adjacent landowners.  In fact, we're told, the fence blocked the access of the property behind the pub, and that part of the fence has now had to be removed.
      It seems strange that a pub that is advertised as 'Canalside' should now be fencing itself off from the canal.  We wait, with bated breath, for a statement from WBCT on the thinking behind this action.


November 11th 2017

Now here's an odd report just come in and has yet to be confirmed.
A fence has been erected between the Peterborough Arms and Dauntsey Lock.
Who built it and why are still to be determined.

So if anyone with any information or pictures would contact me we can post the information here.

Contact us.

November 2nd 2017

Click image for slide show

     John and I visited Westleaze yesterday (Nov 1st) and found that finally work was underway on the next stage of the developement.  Opposite Waitroses the clearence has begun and it looks like foundations of some buildings are already being dug.  Up the canal from the bridge the canal has been drained and work on clearing the site and re-aligning the canal is well advanced.

November 2nd 2017

   We have just received a letter from Savilles (land agents for Farmcare) telling us that all bonfires are banned on Farmcare land.  This is a reaction to an unattended, out of control fire on one of their leased properties that could have destroyed a valuable crop; only being saved by the prompt action of a passerby.

    Please note this was nothing to do with us in any way, and that we appreciate Farmcares point of view, and will strictly abide by it at Latton.


October 25th 2017
Ron Robertson

    John Bower has sent out this message...

   I had a phone call this evening from Ron Robertson's' daughter to let me know Ron passed away on October 15th. He had recently been in hospital a couple of times and recently suffered two strokes but died unexpectedly.

   Those who remember Ron will do so with affection. He worked on many of our canal sites over many years and passed on much of his knowledge and experience to so many of us. He was a master at being able to make anything out of nothing which was so essential on our cash strapped sites. Ron was a key player in the construction of Chaddington Lock and tail bridge, it is unlikely it would have been built without his guidance and knowledge. There are many tales to tell about Ron and the work he did for us. Until recently he often visited us at RWB, whizzing up and down the towpath on his electric buggy, certainly the first to so at Studley.

   His funeral will be at 10.30 on 3rd November at Kingsdown crematorium.


                                                                                                                                    John B

    This is very sad news.  Ron was one of the first people I met way back in the early 1990's when I first started exploring the canal.  I still remember our first meeting, being introduced to him by Tony Davy (another sad loss), and Ron giving myself and my colleague a whistle stop tour of the restoration sites around Swindon in his old pick-up.  After that it seemed that where-ever there was something going on around Swindon or RWB, there was Ron.  Moredon aqueduct, dredging by Moulden Hill, Westleaze, Beavans Bridge, Chaddington you name it Ron was probably there.
     Another of the originals has passed away, but hopefully the new management team will remember him and what he contributed.




October 24th 2017

WWRT update

    As many of you will know there has recently been formed a new Trust: the Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust.  WWRT was registered as a 'Charitable Incorporated Organistion' (CIO) on the 11th September 2017 with a Charity number of 1174586.

    It appears that the aim of WWRT is to concentrate on the building, repairing and renovating of existing structures in areas where WBCT is not working.  This will enable volunteers who prefer the 'hands on' approach to continue contributing to the canal restoration.  It sees itself as a companion organistion to WBCT and not a competitor.

   It is very early days and the organisation is still being setup.  They still need volunteers to fill numerous roles in the administration as well as physical work.

    Their web site will be 'going live' shortly.

September 17th 2017

'Nonsuch' back at Templars Firs

         The RWB team spent the weekend 16th/17th running free trips for WBCT members and families along the longest established rewatered section of canal.  'Nonsuch' was Vic miller's boat which he first launched here in 1998 at the IWA Trail Boat Festival.  Since then Vic has trailed the boat all over the country.  He has now decided to hang up his windlass and has generously made a gift of his boat to WBCT.

Vic treating VIPs to a trip at Templars Firs.
Click here for Sunday pictures.

September 6th 2017

Templars Firs
Royal Wootton Bassett

     Another day, another visit.  This time to one of my old favourites; the mile long stretch of water at Templars Firs.  The longest accessable stretch of clear canal we have.  It was of no surprise to find the local workparty hard at it, and this time assisted by a group from Ameys. They were busy at clearing weed from the canal and tidying the towpath; two jobs that need constant attention.  Everything was as a canal should be, except, of course, the lack of narrowboats.  There was wildlife in plenty, ducks, moorhens, swans and even the dreaded watervoles.  The flora is varied and abundant.  There were also ramblers, dog walkers, cyclists and fishermen.  This is exactly the image the restoration project needs.  This length of the canal has been in use since the 1990s, with the original tripboat, Pioneer, running up and down for several years.  It has also been the site for several water festivals. 

     We will be back here on the weekend of  the 16th/17th of September when 'Nonsuch', the boat recently donated to WBCT by Vic Miller, will be taking members for trips.  I believe light refreshments will also be available.

                                                                         Click here for pictures

September 2nd 2017
Steppingstone Lane Bridge

      We thought it was time to revisit Steppingstone Lane Bridge as we hadn't been there for a couple of years.  It was not a good idea.  The towpath, which had been re-instated on the correct side, was almost totally overgrown and very difficult to walk; apparently only the intrepid dog walkers were keeping it visible. Between Station Road and Steppingstone Bridge the canal is practically invisible.  The bridge itself is also somewhat disappointing, only one side has its coping stones in position and the deck of the bridge appears unfinished.  This cannot be a good advertisement for the restoration; when was this project first started? 

Click here for photos


August 30th 2017

Remembering – HARRY BROMLEY 1926 – 2017

Former Corporate Fund Raiser for W&BCT

A personal tribute from Janet Flanagan

    Back in the 1990’s Harry turned up at a Swindon Branch meeting and later persuaded me to take him on a tour of the restoration sites in North Wilts.  I bought his lunch, this proved to be money well spent as he offered to try to raise funds for what was then the largest restoration project in Swindon, namely excavation of canal and rebuilding of Lock No3 at Moredon.  It was only later that I discovered his considerable business acumen and promotional and fund raising skills.  He was modest about his past achievements.

    Harry had an illustrious military career and after his retirement he was involved in a wide number of organisations in a promotion capacity such as the British Olympic Association and Imperial Cancer Research Fund and locally through his work with the Old Town Business Association running the Christmas Lights event.  He took the view that it was better to make personal contacts with companies for funds rather than writing endless begging letters.

    He quickly secured funding for the Moredon Project from Crapper & Sons.  This family firm have been generously funding our canal restoration ever since!

    Buoyed by the success of the Moredon Project, Swindon Borough Council secured Heritage Lottery funding for the canal restoration at Westleaze, including the rebuilding of Bevans Bridge.  Once again Harry secured a significant financial contribution from The Hills Group for this project.  Swindon people now woke up to find two stretches of lovely canal that at some point needed to be joined.

‘Harry Bromley, and Swindon Branch Chairman Henry Smith,
receiving a cheque from members of the Crapper family in 1998 at Moredon Lock’.

    In 1998 the National Trail Boat Festival was held at Royal Wootton Bassett and Harry persuaded Dr David Bellamy to open it, (having sat outside the latter’s office in London for many hours).

    David Bellamy and his family had originally planned to only spend two hours at the event but stayed the whole day and visited again the next day.  In 2002 Harry raised £9000 from various sponsors to fund the Wiltshire Waterways Festival also held at Royal Wootton Bassett.

    Harry was incredibly driven and tenacious with boundless energy in pursuing his objectives.  Business people in Swindon were known to hide in doorways if they saw him approach in the lead up to Christmas as he was seeking contributions towards the lights!

    He was polite, respectful and a stickler for detail, a true professional and above all that a true friend.


23rd August 2017

Harry Bromley

         We were very sad to hear that, after a long illness, Harry Bromley passed away on Saturday 12th August. Harry was 92 and throughout his life he had varied and interesting involvements in many unusual situations. He became involved with the canal many years ago and became the Corporate Fundraiser, raising, over the years, tens of thousands of pounds for the Trust.           Amongst other things he was instrumental in involving David Belamy in the 1998 Trail Boat Festival at Wootton Bassett 


Harry with David Bellamy and IWA Chairman Audrey Smith.

          Although I had known Harry for some time, my personal involvement with him was in 2006 at our first Latton Open Day.  Harry was so taken with the project that he approached Richard (Crapper & Sons Landfill), who he convinced of the projects value.  Since then Crappers have generously funded the Basin project and have enabled us to achieve a great deal more than we ever expected. 

A much fuller account of Harry's life will, no doubt, appear in Dragonfly and will be printed here as soon as possible.

22nd August 2017

Sad News reported by IWA

Mick Beattie

         'We are saddened to report the death of Mick Beattie of Waterway Recovery Group who had a major influence on WRG and its Canal Camps in the 1990s.  Mick first attended a Canal Camp, on the Pocklington Canal, in 1987 and his knowledge and skills, being in the building trade, were of immediate benefit.  The following year he established his abilities as assistant leader of a particularly successful Camp at Bugsworth Basin and then took on the logistics of organising all the tools, plant, catering kit and vehicles for running all of WRG’s Camps and more.  During his tenure as leader of WRG’s Logistics Group, and leader of the newly established ‘Navvies Anonymous’ regional group, WRG’s Canal Camp programme rapidly expanded and standards of both Health & Safety and provision of support kit at WRG sites improved beyond all previous recognition, and the pattern for WRG’s current regular programme of works became firmly established.  Partly on the strength of his achievements with WRG, Mick successfully took on a post with waterway contractors Land & Water but, sadly, suffered a protracted fight with cancer over the past seven years.'
                                                                                                                                                                           IWA Bulletin

     Older members of the East Vale Branch may remember meeting Mick at the 1991 Wrg Big Dig, where he and Navvies Anonymous were some of the 1000 that turned out that weekend for WRGs 21st Birthday Bash.

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 are 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 

Click for photos

    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