Cotswold Canals Restoration - Phase 1A
The canal being restored under the Phase 1A Restoration Programme is a six mile section between 'The Ocean' at Stonehouse on the Stroudwater Navigation and Brimscombe Port, to the east of Stroud, on the Thames & Severn Canal.
Work on the ground started in September 2007 and is continuing with the aim of completing most of the work by the end of 2015.
In summary the Phase 1A restoration includes:
- Restoration of 6 miles of canal to a navigable standard
- Reinstatement of a about 2,100m of infilled canal
- Upgrading of towpath for walkers & cyclists
- Construction of 11 bridges
- Construction of new weirs & flood gate
- Restoration / reinstatement of 10 locks
and redevelopment of Brimscombe Port.
British Waterways were originally going to deliver the programme, but withdrew from the project in April 2008, not long after work started.
Responsibility for managing the restoration programme then passed to Stroud District Council and a canal project manager was appointed in April 2009. In March 2009 the Stroud Valleys Canal Company was incorporated to take ownership of, and manage the restored canal.
Phase 1A Funding
Initially the Phase 1A Restoration Programme had finance to complete all planned works, except for the section of the canal between Hope Mill and Brimscombe Port, and the Port itself. This was to be funded as part of the redevelopment of the Port by one or more developers.
The cost initially was estimated at £27.6 million with £11.9 million of that being awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in January 2006. The remaining funding being provided by members of the Cotswold Canals Partnership and donations. A significant contribution has also been made through the use of volunteer labour.
Incidentally, when the HLF award was made in January 2006 the anticipated completion date for the project was March 2009.
Phase 1A Achievements
The Phase 1A restoration work started 'on the ground' in early September 2007.
Since then the canal has been fully restored and is navigable heading east from 'The Ocean' in Stonehouse as far as Lodgemore Bridge in the centre of Stroud.
Between Lodgemore Bridge and Brimscombe Port the following has also been achieved:
- Construction of Stroud Brewery Bridge (Gloucestershire County Council)
- Restoration of Wallbridge Upper Lock
- Construction of bypass channel and fish pass at Wallbridge Lower Lock
- Dredging near Wallbridge Lower Lock
- New canal channel at Capel's Mill
- Upgrading of towpath
- Restoration of Bowbridge, Griffin's Mill & Ham Mill Locks
Revised Phase 1A Restoration Plan
After restoration work started it become apparent that there would be a funding shortfall. A significant element of this is due to the Brimscombe Port redevelopment being deferred. This will result in a delay to the planned 2014 completion date, perhaps by several years.
In November 2012, the Phase 1A restoration plan was scaled back with the stated aim of getting the canal restored as far as Hope Mill. To enable this to happen the significant additional use of volunteer labour has, and is being used, to restore Bowbridge, Griffins Mill & Ham Mill Locks and the dredging of the pounds between. Some additional funding was also secured from the HLF.
This means that work on the remaining section of canal cannot be scheduled until funding becomes available, most of which will come from the redevelopment of Brimscombe Port as previously mentioned.
Phase 1A Deferred Work:
- New lock at Hope Mill
- New road bridge at Hope Mill
- Removal of infill at Hope Mill
- Gough's Orchard Lock (mainly fitting of Lock Gates)
- Removal of infill above Gough's Orchard Lock
- New river crossing near Brimscombe Port
- New road bridge near Brimscombe Port
- New basin at Brimscombe Port and associated facilities
Brimscombe Port was given a boost on 15 October 2015 when a £2M funding award was made by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA). This will enable some of the initial infrastructure work to take place including the demolition of a number of disused industrial buildings.
This should make it easier to attract developers to construct the commercial and residential property planned for the site in due course, alongside the reinstatement of the canal.
Remaining Work Under the Revised Phase 1A Plan
The following major items are scheduled to be finished under the Revised Plan, with increased support from volunteer labour:
Work in Progress
- Restoration of retaining wall between Bowbridge Lock & Bridge (by volunteers)
- Restoration of Wallbridge Lower Lock (by volunteers)
- Dredging of canal between Bowbridge Lock & Hope Mill (by volunteers)
- Installation of landing stages at each complete lock (by volunteers)
- Bowbridge Bridge - construct new 'half' bridge. Work started November 2015 with completion expected in 2016
Work not yet started ('On the ground')
- New canal feeder to be constructed from Brimscombe Mill into Thames & Severn Canal below Goughs Orchard Lock.