Heritage Lottery Fund — Evaluation Cruise
On Friday 10th November 2017 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Monitors team carried out an Evaluation Cruise of the restored & navigable length of the Cotswold Canals; from The Ocean at Stonehouse in the west, to Bowbridge Lock in the east.
Under the leadership of Stroud District Council since 2009, the project has seen restoration of 4.5 miles of canal, 9 locks, 6 miles of towpath and huge benefits in terms of leisure and wildlife.
The evaluation voyage was the ‘signing off’ element of the HLF Funding Agreement for Phase 1 A of the restoration of the Stroudwater Navigation and Thames & Severn Canal between Stonehouse and Stroud.
The Stroud Valleys Canal Company (SVCC) maintenance vessel Wookey Hole carried three HLF Monitors — James Dennis, Patrick Moss and Sarah Coffield.
Also on board were Stroud District Council Chief Executive David Hagg and SDC Canal Project Manager Dave Marshall.
Mayor Kevin Cranston represented Stroud Town Council whilst Cotswold Canals Trust (CCT) Chief Executive Ken Burgin and Vice Chair John Newton represented CCT.
This gloriously sunny late autumn day will be recorded as an historic day in the life of the canal through Stroud.
The Monitor Group don life-jackets and board Wookey Hole
Wookey Hole and HLF Monitors leave The Ocean at Stonehouse
Wookey Hole, on schedule, passes Ebley Mill
Safe transit through Wallbridge Lower Lock
Lunch was taken at Upper Lock Cafe, Wallbridge
Destination reached — Bowbridge Lock
Business & pleasure
Whilst the cruise involved important evaluation business, sheer delight, pleasure and satisfaction were also evident:
James Dennis, Chartered Surveyor and HLF Monitor… “We are impressed with the achievements made in relation to the canal channel and its structures. Thanks are due to the restoration team, its volunteers, the civil engineers and of course the National Lottery Players.
It is good for them all to see and appreciate the results of the various parts they have all played in this project.”
Jim White, CCT Chair… “People with devotion, commitment and energy have made all this possible.
But of course there is more restoration to be done which in turn increases the ongoing maintenance programme.
Let’s hope today’s voyage attracts even more volunteers who can enjoy that work into the future.”
Angela Rowbotham, Engineer and designer of Lodgemore Lift Bridge… “I am glad I went to Lodgemore today.
I did feel proud to have been involved in the creation of the bridge. I even had an opportunity to help with operating the hydraulic lifting mechanism today.”
Kevin Cranston, Stroud Town Mayor… “I was very pleased to be with the evaluation group today. This was a significant day for the restoration and indeed for the people of Stroud.”
Reg Gregory, CCT Western Division Team leader and lock operator today… “It was a great carnival atmosphere all the way along the route.
We all enjoyed the many smiles and positive comments from the towpath walkers.”
Ian Tweedie, Maintenance Vessels Team Leader… “I don’t mind saying that I was proud to have been involved today. The spontaneous cheering and applause as we came into Wallbridge Lower Lock was a great experience.”
Dave Marshall, Stroud District Council’s Canal Manager sums up… “Nine years ago, the council courageously came to the rescue of the canal project. Thanks to a lot of great people, the first part is just about complete and the canal is there for the enjoyment of the whole community. Now we’ve got to carry on the momentum and get connected to the national waterway network.”