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Canals project forging on with dogged enthusiasm

By Stroud Life  |  Posted: March 13, 2013

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FIVE years of dogged effort by canal restoration enthusiasts have floated to the top of our pages on countless occasions in Stroud Life's own half decade.

The project was at a low in March 2008 when British Waterways withdrew from it.

But members of the Cotswold Canals' Trust, which started as Stroudwater Canal Society in 1972, were not about to give up.

In December 2008, Stroud District Council took the lead on what then became the Cotswold Canals' Project.

Since then the reopening of both the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal have continued with renewed energy thanks to Heritage Lottery funding.

New bridges have been built, locks repaired, and towpaths renewed, much of it with enthusiastic volunteer help.

A highlight was the visit to the restored canals in Wallbridge by the Princess Royal in February last year.

And the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was celebrated last June at the Stroud on Water Festival with more than 40 boats and 11,000 visitors.

Then there was a temporary setback when the project failed to gain further lottery money to work up a bid for funding for its second phase from Stonehouse to Saul Junction.

Mike Guest, chairman of the Cotswold Canals' Trust, remains optimistic.

"We aim to work with all oour partners to get boats into Stroud as soon as possible, which will give a major boost to the economies of Stroud and its surrounding areas," he said.

The canals should be open from Capel's Mill through to The Ocean in Stonehouse within the next year, said Coun Roger Sanders, Stroud District Council's executive member for regeneration.

His vision for the next five years included two canal basins with a Stroud waterfront.

Coun Sanders (Lab, Uplands) said: "I want to see a fleet of, perhaps, electric boats going up and down there, people able to walk down to look at the boats and to travel on the water from Saul to Stroud."

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