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Restorer's Reunion Report

A report from Dave Elliott

Founder members of the Stroudwater Canal Society met at The Dockers Club in Sharpness on Saturday 5th May 2012 for a reunion of those who attended the inaugural public meeting held in The Subscription Rooms in Stroud on 5th May 1972.

The beginning

The 1972 meeting resulted in the birth of The Stroudwater Canal Society which later became The Cotswold Canals Trust.

Presentation

Phil Holland, a past chairman of the Society, presented an engraved fruit bowl to Mike and Beryl Ayland, the couple who called the original meeting in May 1972.

Many Miles – Memories & Memorabilia

Original members of the Society travelled from places as far apart as Leeds, Tiverton, Bristol, Bath and the Forest of Dean to greet friends they hadn't seen for over thirty years.

They brought a vast amount of photographs, newspaper cuttings and items of memorabilia.

The display triggered long conversations on those early days when a group of enthusiasts with no money and no experience of canal restoration set about rebuilding the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal.

Mike (pictured right with volunteers at Bowbridge in 1974) responded to the presentation with a speech recalling the events that led up to the inaugural meeting.

He reminded the gathering that the multi-million pound restoration work now in progress in the Stroud area is a result of the efforts and enthusiasm of the few founder members who set to work so long ago.

Fund raising ventures from raffles & tombola to collection and sale of waste paper and car batteries helped pay for materials, equipment and publicity!

Still Fund Raising

Old habits die hard…

The still enthusiastic & restoration focussed people who assembled on Saturday agreed that surplus cash raised by their reunion should be spent on repairs to the circular weir at Bowbridge. (Pictured right in 1975)

This was an early restoration project that has sadly since been vandalised.

Click here to read (watch & listen!) to Mike Ayland's story on how things started.