Sinkhole disaster averted at Swindon canal

By Barrie Hudson - 8 February 2024


A sinkhole has appeared on the bank above an aqueduct carrying the Wilts & Berks Canal over the River Ray in Wichelstowe.

It was discovered last week by a Wilts & Berks Canal Trust work party.
A Trust spokesperson said: "It appears that there may be some damage to the aqueduct structure which could eventually affect the canal with a risk of completely emptying it.
"We notified the council, who own the canal, aqueduct and adjacent land; thankfully, they investigated amazingly quickly and are putting up a coffer dam, which is the scaffolding framework you see here. 
"It will be sealed with plastic, which, put against the sloping poles and along the bank on either side, will seal off the water like the flood barriers you see sometimes on the news, enabling proper investigation.
"Emergency ecological permission was obtained - and a couple of water voles were moved to safety.
"Fortunately the council has a budget, and procedures, for emergencies such as these. 
"The Trust's work party has assisted the council where possible; our thanks are due to both."

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