The Patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will be inaugurating a new landing stage at Wichelstowe next to Waitrose at West Wichel on Monday 13 July.
It is planned that this one mile stretch of the original canal will be linked to the new one mile canal section recently constructed at East Wichel as a joint venture between the Trust and Swindon Borough Council, looping around the three new Wichelstowe villages that form part of the Swindon development plan. The Wilts & Berks canal was closed and some of it filled in over a hundred years ago, and the Trust aims to restore the full 70 mile length over the next ten years.
Her Royal Highness will arrive at the event on Dragonfly, the traditional-style narrowboat built by the Trust to allow the public to enjoy trips on this historic stretch of water. Following her trip The Duchess will unveil a commemorative plaque,
Roderick Bluh, former leader of Swindon Borough Council, has just taken the tiller as Chairman of the Trust and expresses enthusiasm for the recent acceleration in the pace of canal restoration. He said: “The Trust has made significant advances in the last year and we have a number of major projects in the pipeline.
“The Melksham Link, for example, has the potential to create a fantastic new leisure destination for Wiltshire along a proposed two mile stretch of our canal, providing significant economic benefits for the region and the town. We hope in time that Swindon itself will become the hub of a network of navigable waterways connecting much of southern England.”
The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust for eight years and she will be joined at the unveiling ceremony by local dignitaries, Trust volunteers, sponsors and supporters.
Lord Lansdowne, President of the Wiltshire Swindon and Oxfordshire Canal Partnership added: “We are hugely grateful for Her Royal Highness’s continued support which helps to inspire the 2,600 members who still form the backbone of our work.
“Research has clearly shown that waterways enhance people’s lives, not just in the countryside but most particularly in our towns and cities; people like to live, work and spend their leisure time alongside water. Our own Wilts & Berks Canal has an important part to play in reinstating a national network of navigable waterways.”
Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, commented: “We are extremely honoured to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to Swindon and, in turn, showcase our ambitious and exciting plans for the development at Wichelstowe. We are looking forward to working with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust as our plans for the canal develop.”
Ian Smith, the Manager of the Swindon Waitrose, said: “Since we opened just over a year ago we have built an excellent relationship with the Canal Trust, and we are looking forward to that continuing for many years to come. We are thrilled that the Trust’s boat trips will be starting from a landing stage next to our branch, it is a wonderful feature for the public and for Waitrose. The fact that Her Royal Highness will be officially opening the landing stage is the icing on the cake.”