It's the Minor things in Life
that can cause the Major Problems
(especially if you ignore them)

For example: the Wilts & Berks Canal Restoration.
        There is no doubt that much has been achieved in the over thirty years since Full Restoration had been set as the objective.  Several locks have been rebuilt, a number of accommodation bridges rebuilt, stretches of canal dredge and back in water, miles of towpath cleared as footpaths and even a new junction with the River Thames constructed.  Ambitious plans for new routes around Melksham, Swindon and Abingdon are coming to fruition, and minor diversions in other areas have been identified.

       But what about all those other little problems.  Like the approximately fifty crossings of public highways?  And these are just on the main line.  So far no road carrying traffic has been crossed, either over or under, by the restored canal.  (Only at Purton Road, on the North Wilts, has a navigable culvert been built during a road re-alignment project).  Looking at the list the immensity of the project becomes obvious.

      Therefore it is surprising that more attention is, apparently, not being paid to these crossings.  One of the major obstacles, the M4 at Swindon, is probably going to be the easiest to overcome.  A new road is planned to go under the motorway as part of the housing development at Wichelstowe, and in all probability the canal will go alongside it.
 

                            Comments taken from various reports and surveys.

                        AH = Allen Harris

                        SW = Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick

                        OA = Ove Arup

 

Semington to the River Thames

Click for
images

OS

Location

Comment

01

 

Semington Junction via Melksham to Woodrow House Farm

None of the original route will be used, so not part of this survey. Bridges will be built by developers.

02

ST
92596
68078

Bowden Hill (Bell Inn)

Steep hill from Lacock to A342
"Divert canal through Bell Inn car park, construct culvert under road." AH 1994
"Canal infilled forming gardens (and swimming pool) on south side of bridge. Divert canal through Bell Inn car park and construct new canal bridge, with regrading of approaches. Additional parking required for Bell Inn." SW 1998
Note: Bell Inn car park directly faces Bewley Lane.

03

ST
92626
68970

Rey Mill Bridge

"Original lift bridge removed and infilled. Replace with new fixed road bridge." SW 1998

04

ST
94580
71666

A4 London Road
Forest Gate Crossing

Chippenham to Calne road.
"Road crosses at canal level. Rebuild Pewsham top lock north of A4 crossing to lower level of canal under road." AH 1994
"Infilled, original bridge removed. Bed culverted. Realign A4 west of existing to raise level approx 1.2m. Provide wide carriageway to allow for right hand turning lane to garage." SW 1998

05

ST
95852
72240

Studley Road Bridge

"Place canal in culvert under road." AH 1994
"
Road crosses at high level on infill. Provide new bridge."  SW 1998

06

ST
95924
72973

Stanley Bridge

"Place canal in culvert under road." AH 1994
"Original bridge removed. High road level with steep approaches. Provide new bridge." SW 1998

07

ST
96925
74584

Bremhill Wick Bridge

"The original Wick Arch Bridge is infilled and the canal bed piped. New fixed bridge required it will need a slight rise in the road to achieve this, but this should not be a problem."  SW 1998

08

ST
97808
75566

Charlcutt Hill

"Bridge removed and canal culverted via 3x30" pipes. Fixed bridge required, road to be raised slightly."
SW 1998

09

ST
98213
77295

Foxham

"Original bridge removed and culverted. New bridge required with regrading of approaches. Also regrading of access to Cadenham Manor, private residences and Foxham Lock." SW 1998

10

ST
99547
80182

Dauntsey Lock

Missed opportunity when road was closed for adjacent railway bridge alterations.
"
Original bridge demolished and culverted. Provide new bridge with regrading of approaches Also regrading of access to private residences." SW 1998

11

SU
01411
80599

Waite Hill Farm

"Bridge removed and canal bed culverted. New farm accommodation bridge required with regrading of approaches." SW 1998
Not sure if Highways would be involved as this used to be a through route.

12

SU
01979
80671

Bowd's Lane

"Originally a lift bridge spanning the lock chamber, Bowd's Lane now crosses Lock 2 on infill. Provide new fixed bridge integral with Lock 2 restoration." SW 1998
There was a plan to divert the road below the lock, but this has been scrapped in favour of moving the lock.

13

SU
02751
81155

Trow lane

Bridge site is on a slope with visible canal either side, so should not be too much of a problem.
"Bridge removed and canal culverted. New fixed road bridge required." SW 1998

13a

SU
03555
81411
Tockenham Road Bridge "Infilled and canal bed culverted. Road at high level over bed. Provide new canal culvert under road."
SW 1998

14

SU
05293
81563

A3102

Possible diversion
"Divert canal to cross A3102 where road is at a higher level. Road bridge required." AH 1994

14a

SU
05641
81545
Hunts Mill Bridge "No trace visible. Road bridge required, clearance adequate." SW 1998

15

SU
07024
81552

Station Road, Templars Firs

"The original canal line is incorporated into gardens of properties along Dunnington Road for a length of about 200 metres."
"Original bridge removed, no trace. Build new fixed bridge on diverted canal route, minor regrading of approaches."
"The original alignment is incorporated into the end of gardens and garages of the Templars Firs estate a length of some 250 metres. A new alignment is proposed just south of the original, through the Council Depot." SW 1998

16

 SU
09509
81473

Binknoll Lane
Chaddington Lane

"Original bridge demolished. Road at high level. Provide new skew bridge with regrading of approaches and alignment improvements." SW 1998

17

 SU
10961
82083

Hay Lane

New route will need to cross the T-junction so it can go north towards M4. Might be part of road re-alignment; possibly may need two bridges.

18

SU
11558
82529

M4

New tunnel as part of Wichelstowe housing development.

18a

SU
13384
82626
Mill Lane Missed opportunity when Waitrose was built.
Possibly to be constructed when current housing development is completed.

19

 

M4 to Marlborough Road

Covered by Wichelstowe development.
Mill Lane should be included in this.

20

SU
15038
82241
Marlborough Road New route.

21

SU
17494
81454

Coate Water - Nightingale Cottages

New route.
"
A traditional design may be possible here. Would also accommodate right of way." SW 1998

22

SU
19078
81360

Day House Lane

New route
"
Fixed minor road bridge required; no realignment required." SW 1998

23

SU
19221
81383

A419

New route
"
Thrust bore; also under slip road (minor raising of slip road)." SW 1998

24

SU
19627
82194

B4192

New route
"
Fixed bridge with minor raising or regrading of approaches." SW 1998

25

SU
19679
82815

Pack Hill

New route
"
Fixed bridge with minor raising or regrading of approaches." SW 1998

26

SU
19802
83305

Inlands Farm

New route
"
Public road, fixed bridge required with minor regrading of approaches." SW 1998

27

SU
20088
84574

Wanborough Road

New route
"
Fixed bridge required." SW 1998

28

SU
21861
87432

Acorn Railway Bridge

"Existing skew bridge under the GWR in good condition. However, the A420 now uses the canal arch. Allow for a thrust bored canal culvert east of original line. Canal to approach square." SW 1998

29

SU
22651
87847

Bourton Road

Possible diversion
"
New fixed bridge for public road with regrading of approaches." SW 1998

30

SU
23763
87916

B4100 Station Road

Still standing. In good condition and still in use.

31

SU
24301
88252

Stainswick Lane

"Original lift bridge removed, infilled and culverted. A slight hump in the road is still visible. New development in close proximity to canal crossing point, also access to grain storage shed. Provide new bridge with regrading of approaches plus access to grain store."
SW 1998

32

SU
26047
88941

Bowles Bridge

"Road rises at original crossing point; original bridge (a lift bridge) lost. Provide new fixed bridge and regrade approaches." SW 1998

33

SU
27429
89319

Old Wharf road

"Infilled. Provide new bridge slightly to south of original, regrade approaches." SW 1998

34

SU
28124
89385

Railway bridge near Longcot

"There are no signs of the original skew railway bridge, which is likely to have been demolished and infilled. Allow for a new thrust bored canal culvert slightly to the north east." SW 1998

35

SU
30020
89750

Wharf Farm, Uffington

"Road rises at original crossing point. New bridge with minor regrading of approaches." SW 1998
Bungalow built on canal line.

36

SU
31300
89746

Baulking Road

"Bridge levelled, parapet about ground level. Road rises at original crossing point. New bridge required with slight regrading of approaches." SW 1998

37

SU
33013
88870

Kingston Common Bridge

"Levelled and infilled, but road rises at original crossing point. Skew bridge required with regrading of approaches and alignment improvements; also regrading of farm access." SW 1998

38

SU
34067
88947

Broadleaze Farm

"Infilled and levelled. May be culverted. New bridge required with regrading of approaches and farm access." SW 1998

39

SU
35685
88661

Childrey New Road

"Original bridge levelled, infilled and culverted. Road rises at original crossing point. Allow for new bridge with regrading of approaches and alignment improvements. Also regrade access to farm and stud farm." SW 1998

40

SU
36788
88258

Silver Lane, West Challow

"Infilled and culverted. Original crossing on sharp right and left hand bends. Provide new bridge with regrading of approaches and alignment improvements, also regrading of farm access." SW 1998

41

SU
37525
88367

Cornhill Lane

Originally a lift bridge. The lane is now used by 4X4 vehicles.

42

SU
38034
88360

East Challow A417

"Original bridge demolished and infilled. Road rises at original crossing point. Road to be raised by about 0.6 metres to achieve clearance (in combination with new lock)." SW 1998
"There is insufficient clearance for the canal to remain at historical water level and pass the existing road. In order to pass this obstacle, either the road must be raised, a lift bridge installed, or the canal lowered to pass under the road with sufficient clearance." OA 2014

43

SU
39424
89130

Mably Way

Diversion due to housing development.
"Our work in 2005 concluded that the best solution for the canal to pass Mably Way roundabout and the roads branching off it was to deviate from the historical route and pass north of the roundabout." OA 2014

44

SU
40085
89387

A338 Grove

"Infilled and levelled. Provide new bridge with minor regrading of approaches. Also regrading of farm access and remodelling of road junction." SW 1998
"The Arup 2005 study proposed canal route proposed raising the A338 by approximately 0.5m to allow the canal to pass underneath it. We have not repeated this suggestion as discussions with the OCC have made it clear that raising the A-road is unlikely to be accepted."
OA 2014

45

SU
42344
90311

Grove Park Drive

"Infilled and culverted, some large trees. Steep hump on bend. Provide new bridge with regrading of approaches." SW 1998

45a

SU
42651
91501
Ardington Railway bridge "Bridge opening narrowed and canal culverted. The adjacent farm access could be used for the canal: there is an alterative farm access  80 metres to the west." SW 1998

46

SU
44085
92926

Cow Common
Hanney Road

"Originally a stone arch bridge, demolished in 1965 and infilled. New bridge required, regrade approaches, regrade and realign farm access." SW 1998

47

 

A34

Diversion
"
Canal infilled for road construction. Allow for a thrust bored canal culvert." SW 1998
"The A34 runs at capacity during peak hours and maintains heavy flows throughout the day. Accordingly, any infringement into this dual 2-lane trunk road could quickly result in massive congestion. Therefore it is likely that whichever method of construction is chosen for the crossing, it is essential to maintain full A34 carriageway widths throughout construction."
OA 2003

48

 

B4017

Diversion
"New bridge with regrading of approaches to raise by approx l metre." SW 1998
"B4017 also significant crossing - will maybe need to keep open or divert onto A34 during construction."
OA 2003

Maps courtesy of Google Maps
Satellite images courtesy of Google Earth

 

      It can be seen from the above listing that there is an enormous task ahead in providing  a continuous line for the canal.  These are only the crossing points identified as needing all the planning rigmarole associated with Councils, Highways, and Services (Electricity, Gas, Water, Drainage, Telecoms etc.).

        There are many other places where farm accommodation bridges, footpath bridges, rights of way bridges will have to be provided. But these will be relatively easy.

        Also worth noting is that building locks and excavating and re-profiling the canal bed as well as re-instating the towpaths is straightforward once landowner permission (i.e. leases) is obtained.

        It is the crossing of public highways that needs to be concentrated upon!  It could be looked upon as a 'chicken and egg' situation.  Why bother with a bridge until the canal is re-instated either side of the road, or why bother with the canal until the bridge is built.  The answer is: do both together.

       

Other comments of interest.

A34 Crossing Methods
      The A34 crossing location has been selected to be near the high point in this section of the A34. There are three feasible options for crossing under the A34 trunk road at tills point;

road diversion over the construction period with structure built using conventional construction techniques,
build bridge adjacent to crossing and slide in during temporary closure/possession of road and
jacked structure where the road is able to be kept 'live' whilst structure is pushed under the motorway.

      All three methods for crossing the A34 should be taken forward at this stage for further consultation with the Highways Agency and local and county transport planners. However, the diversion method is feasible with the crossing location and holds considerably less risk than other options. The Highways Agency has also stated a preference for this method.
 

OA 2004

     A drop lock allows for the gravitational water feed of the canal to be unrestricted when the lock is not in operation by simply leaving the gates open. For a sump pound a bypass pipe would be required through which all of the water demand of the downstream canal would have to pass. There is a risk that maintenance and clogging issues of the by-pass pipe could interfere with the canal supply. There is currently only one existing drop lock in the world. It is the Dalmuir drop lock on the Forth & Clyde Canal. This lock was installed in 2000 to overcome exactly the same constraints as found at East Challow.
 

OA 2014

Please contact Doug with any comments or corrections.