A new canal in Melksham?

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Ivo

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Certainly one of the more unusual and ambitious transport projects out there!

From the Bath Chronicle:

Melksham Link could put town back on the waterway map

A hundred years after it last saw a barge, a West town that once thrived because of its canal links could be put back on the waterway map.

But because the old route of the Wilts & Berks canal, which once joined Bristol and Bath to the Thames, has long since been built over in Melksham, an ambitious planning application has been submitted to councillors in Wiltshire to build a new canal through the centre of the town.

If canal enthusiasts get permission – and raise the money – they say they could create the ‘Melksham Link’ by 2016.

The link would run from the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington, near Trowbridge, with a new waterway cut in fields near Berryfields, before joining the River Avon to go through the town centre and out into the countryside beyond, towards Lacock and Chippenham, where locks and sections of the canal are already being restored.

Getting the backing of the Environment Agency will be crucial as the river will have to be altered to provide a consistent flow of water.

It would link the town to the national network of canals and, supporters say, provide a massive boost to the local economy and to local tourism.

The plans also reveal that the 57 miles of the former canal, which fell into disrepair back in 1910, will be covered by a new towpath all the way to Abingdon in Oxfordshire, whether the canal itself has been restored or not.
I never thought I would learn of a new canal route any time soon - much less one so close to home. Still, the benefits are there, so why not?
 
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Deerfold

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They did it in Sowerby Bridge where the main road through the town was built over the canal - but they only needed to restore a few tens of metres of Canal (including a much deeper tunnel under the road - technically it was still linked - it was just a pipe under the road).
 

MK Tom

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I never thought I would learn of a new canal route any time soon - much less one so close to home. Still, the benefits are there, so why not?
Actually there's a new canal being planned between Milton Keynes and Bedford - the first eight miles east from MK already have planning permission. Still, awesome to hear of another one!
 

fgwrich

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Good for them, and i hope the project goes well. Incidently, i noticed when up was up in Stroud a few weekends back that it looks like there is some restoration going on with the canal through there - (Severn - Avon i think?).

It is such a shame that theres very little chance of bringing the canal back into this town. When you think how well places like Birmingham have done out of having the various Canal Warfs, sadly Basingstoke lost it's chance in the 60s when Concrete Jungle shopping centres seemed more important - So now, the nearest the Basingstoke Canal actually gets to Basingstoke is Upton Grey and the Greywell tunnel - itself now locked out of use as bats have inhabited the tunnel.
 
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Clip

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This is a radical idea. It would seem to be even more ambitious than building a new railway, though, and even more expensive than that.
Im not sure it would be more expensive then building a new railway. All they have to do is dig a trench, cement it in and fill with water. No laying of track and signalling or anything.
 

MK Tom

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Im not sure it would be more expensive then building a new railway. All they have to do is dig a trench, cement it in and fill with water. No laying of track and signalling or anything.
It is a bit more complex than that sadly! The Grand Union Canal loses a phenomenal amount of water every day, and they have to be built like that otherwise any kind of severe rainfall will result in cataclysmic flooding. There's a whole system of reservoirs and drainage and ducts that are there to keep the water level right.

One good thing to do if you're interested in this is take a walk along the Wendover Arm from Bulbourne near Tring over to Aston Clinton. It's being restored and reopened after a century of disuse and you can see the walls and ground surfaces going in and it gives you an appreciation for what an exercise in engineering building a canal can be. Also that's very near to four gigantic reservoirs that exist primarily to keep the GUC's water levels topped up.
 

LE Greys

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They did it in Sowerby Bridge where the main road through the town was built over the canal - but they only needed to restore a few tens of metres of Canal (including a much deeper tunnel under the road - technically it was still linked - it was just a pipe under the road).
Another possible solution would be a drop lock. It's expensive and complicated, but might just be workable.

The biggest challenge in canal restoration would be the Sapperton Tunnel. I'd love to see that restored, especially if I ever get the chance to use it one day, as it would create a London-Gloucester-Birmingham-London loop, something tourists love to do, as it means they don't have to cover old ground to get back to the boatyard. It might also be useful for bringing water into the London area in times of drought.
 

Clip

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It is a bit more complex than that sadly! The Grand Union Canal loses a phenomenal amount of water every day, and they have to be built like that otherwise any kind of severe rainfall will result in cataclysmic flooding. There's a whole system of reservoirs and drainage and ducts that are there to keep the water level right.

One good thing to do if you're interested in this is take a walk along the Wendover Arm from Bulbourne near Tring over to Aston Clinton. It's being restored and reopened after a century of disuse and you can see the walls and ground surfaces going in and it gives you an appreciation for what an exercise in engineering building a canal can be. Also that's very near to four gigantic reservoirs that exist primarily to keep the GUC's water levels topped up.
And thats more expensive then the drainage and engineering that has to go in to building a railway line?

I wouldnt be so sure.
 

LE Greys

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And thats more expensive then the drainage and engineering that has to go in to building a railway line?

I wouldnt be so sure.
There are various ways to solve it, including running the canal above river level and having weirs to allow the water to drain back if it gets too high, but that means having expensive pumping stations to get the water there in the first place. Each level also has to be dead flat.

I'd say the costs are probably similar, it was the speed advantage that helped the railways take over.
 

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I dunno really. Ive never really looked into the whole canal cost building excercise really I just think it would be cheaper for a canal then a railway line.
 

MK Tom

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I dunno really. Ive never really looked into the whole canal cost building excercise really I just think it would be cheaper for a canal then a railway line.
May well be. I was just explaining that it's not quite as simple as dig a hole, waterproof it and fill it with water.
 
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