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Wessex Waterways

Restoration Trust


Thank-You Presentation 

    This week a simple thank-you presentation was made to the Kinch Family at their farm in Foxham a couple of miles from Chippenham by members of the Vale of Dauntsey canal restoration working party and here’s why.

    Back in the Spring of 2019 a telephone conversation took place twixt Gordon Williams; our gallant leader and Michael Kinch concerning a fallen Pear tree in their farm orchard. The tree which had stood for a generation or two had finally succumbed to foul Winter weather as had a canal-side Willow previously written-about on these pages. The thrust of the conversation was that the tree was now an obstacle to the cattle that munched on the orchard’s grass and that it was ours should we wish to pop over with a team to render it to its component parts and take it away!

    Never people to say no to an opportunity, Gordon and I drew up our action plan and at an opportune moment turned-up at the farm with the appropriate enthusiasm, manpower and tools. Having not had sight of the task beforehand we all expected a fairly small-to-medium sized tree roughly the size of a dustbin lid however in reality it was much, much bigger! The tree was recumbent, in full leaf and blossom in the orchard with its former uppermost branches straddling a fence into an adjacent field and also annoyingly tangled with a smaller Ash tree that had got in the way during the Pear tree’s death plunge. With the working party were the Bonds; Gillian and Ray who had designs on part of the trunk for their house-building project and Rachael Banyard with her trusty chainsaw.

    Whilst the working party did battle with the lesser boughs, cutting them by hand into logs and piling-up the unusable stuff into a monster heap for disposal, Rachael set to work with the chainsaw and cleaved the trunk into several large but transportable sections. With the might of Michael Kinch’s teleporter vehicle, the sections were hoisted onto Robert Hitchcock’s tractor trailer and taken to his nearby farm where the party could turn it into logs at a later date.

     Wrestling with the root bole took most of the rest of the day; hampered by it being full of red ants rightly miffed at losing their home and next meal as it was their nefarious chewing activities that had contributed to the tree’s demise in the first place. Several of the tree’s boughs had also been pile-driven into the ground during the plunge and had to be pulled out using a Tirfor Jack and plenty of elbow grease.

    Fast-forward now to New Year’s Eve, Gordon, George Schmidt and yours truly turned-up at the Farm to be met by a somewhat bemused Michael and Kath Kinch and their son John. Gordon explained that a wood-worker friend of his had hand-carved a beautiful salad server set from the wood of their Pear Tree and had further embellished the tool handles with canal narrowboat images to link the farm, their families and land to the section of the canal they have the stewardship of. The rich close-grained red of the Pear tree wood sets the serving set apart from the normal lighter wooden types usually found in shops and, although only a small gesture on our behalf, only partially goes to say how thankful we are as a group of volunteers, for the generous assistance over the last few years by all three of this wonderful, busy farming family!


Larry Finnegan Jan 2020