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Wessex Waterways

Restoration Trust

Recent News

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."

24th September 2019

        WWRT were at the Royal Berkshire Agricultural Show at the Newbury Showground over the weekend. Blazing hot on Saturday and wet and windy on Sunday, but overall a very successful weekend.  It is a great way to meet 'local' people and it is surprising who you can end up talking to.

             It was the first outing for our new Marquee and display.  It generally worked well and gave us the opportunity to identify any problems that need to be 'ironed out'.


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.

WWRT Chair


Due to pressure of work Carsten Drew has decided to step down as Trust Chair.  He will remain as Membership Secretary. 

Vaughan Welch has been elected to become the new Chair.



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


That tree again

News update - 24th March 2019

      Just another little Job! At last, 3 days into a 1 day job the pesky willow tree has finally decided to let us hoik it out of the canal. We had two chainsaws on the job but the last and crucial cut was under water which chainsaws seem not to like so we attempted to wrestle the bole from the trunk but the bole didn't seem to understand the script consequently the whole lot had to manhandled across the canal and up the bank where it now reposes. Having made the whole shebang safe for walkers to pass-by safely we now have another days work to hew it into roundels and cordwood ready for shifting to a place where it can be made ready for sale. Like a challenge? Join a local working party or attend one of the many canal working camps - make new friends, wear yourself out; do stuff for your local community and have fun!


A little job

Just another Little Job!

    It all started on Sun 17 Feb when two of the many walkers that abound on our newly re-built towing path at Foxham said they had encountered a fallen tree and did we know of it? Well, it came as a surprise to us so we (Carsten Drew, Gordon Williams, George Schmidt and myself) bimbled, tooled-up, down the towing path to see what we could see. Just about half way down and between the Kinch's accommodation bridge and their access stile lay a fallen 8 metre by 3 metre willow that had had the chutzpah to plop itself completely across the canal and towing path with its topmost branches straddling the hedge line and into the adjoining fields!

    For us, safety is paramount and so is the safety of the general public. As it stood (or rather, as it didn't stand) the tree was neatly blocking pedestrian access to the permissive walkway (or towing path if you prefer) with people squeezing themselves through the myriad of tangled branches as best they could. We endeavoured to clear a route through and shift the debris to one side giving people a clear run. The tree was left propping itself up on its larger boughs and all protrusions removed so no-one could be poked in the eye unless they really tried!

    Now, Carsten, who you may know, is the Chair of the Trust; and immediately went into Trustee Mode and declared this a suitable job for another time but only once a suitable Risk Assessment and associated task Method Statement (or RAMS) is prepared and submitted through the correct channels (Sigh!). He's correct of course so I have made a mental note and will get 'a round tuit'.

    This job is going to need Stuff. Stuff comprises of a chain saw complete with a willing, competent operator, a Tirfor Jack and pulley, cables and a bloke or two with muscles (other genders are available). If we can, we'll have the 3 Ton digger on hand in case the trunk needs a bit of encouragement. Finally, hand tools and a trailer to load the resultant logs onto.

    Finally, I should say that throughout, because we work with the landowners and maintain an excellent relationship with them, we thank them from the heart of our bottoms.  They allow us to not only work on their property but also to process the lumber for sale to the public and help raise funds to purchase and maintain the 'Stuff' that we depend upon.

Yours Aye, Larry

Lawrence Finnegan

WBCT changes


    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.

Press Release

March 12th 2019

Wessex Waterways Restoration Trust is proud to announce that we have received an award from the National Lottery of £10,000.  As a new Trust we are still establishing ourselves within the canal restoration movement and this award will allow us to purchase publicity material (marquee, banners etc.) and extra equipment such as strimmers and mowers, as well as a substantial road trailer.

Our raison d’être is to enhance the work already being carried out on the old Wilts & Berks canal by working on lengths of towpath and canal which are currently inaccessible and, with landowner support and permission, to open them up to the public.  We will also undertake minor rebuild and repair work on structures such as accommodation bridges and locks.  These are tasks that can be undertaken at relatively low cost, and completed within a fixed time-frame.

To achieve this we need to recruit members from all the relevant disciplines – planners, engineers, fund raisers etc. – the list goes on, but at the heart of it all will always be the ‘navvy’.  We are still in the process of negotiating for work sites and, very importantly, recruiting members.  When forming the Trust we were very well aware that there was a growing need for ‘hands on’ work for enthusiastic canal volunteers, and this is what we will provide.

New Board of Trustees

    The AGM of the 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.