The Wilts and Berks canal Trust is an amazing organisation that are restoring all 70 miles of the Wilts and Berks canal to not only restore its fantastic former history, but to also create a tranquil public site that everyone can have access to and enjoy. This task is being performed by a brilliant team of over 150 volunteers who are taking the time to restore this whole canal to it’s former beauty. One key location where the team have been actively working on lately is the Wantage and Grove branch, where the canal ran under the GWR (Great Western Railway). Alongside the canal itself, there is a public footpath that follows it almost as far as Grove Park Drive. Sadly, this route has been invaded by a few major roads that now make it difficult to restore the canals full navigation. 

Adolescent local dog walker Matilde Santos from Grove stated “It’s important to maintain our local area”, followed by, “We can’t neglect crucial parts of our ecosystem so, its really great that the canal is getting noticed again”. This proves that there are still individuals who care and appreciate their environment around them, furthermore, they believe it is imperative to help our essential ecosystems in any way that we can.

Canals are really important to us. They are used to not only transport water for irrigation and other crucial human uses, but they are an efficient form of transportation. For example, the transportation of goods/recourses to other locations or even transport for the public when travelling. Furthermore, canals also have many environmental benefits and not just social ones such as mitigating flood risks by intercepting drainage, holding up flows of water and even moving water away from towns and buildings that are at risk to being flooded. These are only a few reasons of why canals should not be forgotten!

The history of this canal is absolutely incredible however, the original route of it in the Wantage branch has now been filled in and is additionally, hard to follow through the new housing estates. This situation shows that pieces of history like this beautiful passage are disappearing quite vastly and are therefore, being recovered as much as they can.

Construction of the canal originally started in 1795 at Semington near Melksham. 11 years later, construction began to reach East Challow in 1806 and then slowly, continued into Wantage town centre. The canal was then officially opened a few years later, September 1810. However, as years have passed, the canal started to be forgotten by the public.Originally, the initial reason why this canal was abandoned was because of an Act of Parliament in 1914. The Act was sponsored by Swindon Corporation, which gained control of all land within its boundary. This led to many parts of the canal being filled in or becoming overgrown because they were forgotten. Thankfully, that is not the case anymore. 

Wilts and Berks canal Trust has been growing strong for nearly 40 years and continues to do so. Thanks to all of their astounding volunteers working together to restore the canal and improve the route of the waterway to benefit the community and the environment, history is being restored and remembered!


If you would love to find out more about this amazing canal and the brilliant Wilts and Berks canal trust or even get involved in their astounding work, visit their website!