A report from Mike Gallagher
One hundred years ago a boat named Gem was the last recorded vessel to carry a cargo of stone over the Cotswolds from Saul, near Gloucester, to Lechlade on the Thames.
In 1911 the distance along the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal was just 36 miles!
Not so easy now
In 2011 boats have a choice of a 201 miles long southern route via Bristol. This means braving the Severn Estuary before navigating the Kennet and Avon Canal via Bath, Newbury and Reading and then along the upper Thames via Oxford to Lechlade.
Alternatively, the 174 miles long Northern route involves travelling up the Severn to Tewksbury then via Stratford on Avon, Warwick, Leamington Spa, Banbury, and Oxford.
To raise awareness of, and funds for, the restoration of the route (now known collectively as The Cotswold Canals) a number of enthusiastic boat owners set off in two convoys from Saul Junction on the morning of Friday 12th August. See picture below right.
A BBC film crew recorded the departure and will record the arrival at a Civic reception when the boats arrive at Inglesham on Sunday the 4th of September.
The Past & The Future
The Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal were originally built to provide a short and safe trading route from the Severn to London.The Cotswold Canals Trust intends to reopen that route.
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