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Wet weather failed to dampen spirits of Melksham’s canal volunteers

ENTHUSIASTIC volunteers refused to be deterred by last year’s wet weather, donating thousands of hours to bring a waterway back to life.m583 W&B Doug Harris JG 010613a

Members of the Melksham, Chippenham and Calne branch of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust worked on almost 130 days during 2012/13. The total contribution amounted to more than 6,000 hours of free labour with an estimated value of more than £70,000 when applying for matched funding.

The figure is slightly lower than the year before, but the charity is delighted that so much progress was made in the face of the washout summer and cold spring.

Workparty organiser Doug Harris said, “The last year was difficult due to the continuous wet weather which slowed our progress, but we were delighted to see so many people still attending our workparties.

“Much of our effort continues to take place on the stretch between Melksham and Chippenham where significant lengths have already been dredged and refilled with water. The wharf has been restored and the adjacent towpath has been widened to improve access for dumper trucks. Further south we’ve restored the public footpath that will pass over Double Bridge, erected a new stile and gateway, and made repairs to one of the culverts.

“Elsewhere the volunteers cleared hundreds of metres of the former towpath on either side of the A4 so that engineers could begin topographical surveys. Teams also maintained the stretch leading into Calne at Chaveywell Bridge so that tripboats could support community events. Recruitment remained steady with several new volunteers joining throughout the year, of all ages and backgrounds. It’s a great way to enjoy some fresh air and exercise while helping to restore a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Workparties are generally held on the second and last Sundays of each month, with additional workparties held as required. Training and equipment is provided where necessary.

Call Doug on 01249 652236, email doug.harris@ wbct.org.uk or visit www. melkshamwaterway.org.uk

Pictured:  Canal Trust workparty organiser Doug Harris in front of the derelict locks between Melksham and Chippenham


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