Fresh plan to revamp Bridgwater and Taunton Canal

Bridgwater Mercury: Volunteers supporting plans to revamp the canal. Stock photo. Volunteers supporting plans to revamp the canal. Stock photo.

A FIVE-year plan to revamp the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal hopes to rake in tourists and open it up to more boats.

Bridgwater’s Westover ward councillors met with the Inland Waterways Association and Sedgemoor Corporate Director Doug Bamsey to brainstorm some ideas to revive the canal.

A three-stage approach was identified; stage one would be to carry out works to allow boats to move along the waterway, such as raising the water level.

Stage two would involve a high profile Trail Boat Festival in 2019 and stage three would focus on the long term, having lock gates opened into the Parrett.

Bob Abbot, Inland Waterways Association (IWA) chairman said: “The IWA believes there would be considerable merit in developing and implementing a five-year plan to enhance the Canal from Bridgwater Dock through to Standards Lock.

“This would increase its attractiveness to existing and potential users, from both the local community and further afield.”

The project, which would undergo extensive consultation, also suggests reopening the River Parrett to navigation from Bridgwater to Langport and reconnecting the River and Canal.

Mr Abbot added: “It would have a clear aim of developing an agreed and affordable plan. Enhancements at Bridgwater Dock would complement and build on Bridgwater Vision’s Celebration Mile proposals.”

The IWA wants to replace the existing slipway at the north-east corner of the Dock with one that is capable of attracting trail-boaters to use the Dock and the Canal.

Mr Abbot added: “Our target would be to have this in place well in time for a possible IWA sponsored Trail-boat Festival to be held in Bridgwater at the Spring Bank Holiday in May 2019, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the reopening throughout of the Canal in 1994.”

Cllr Kathy Pearce said: “It is important to ensure there is public understanding of any projects that emerge for increasing the use of the canal as a recreational amenity, including the residents that border the docks.”

But Sedgemoor’s Doug Bamsey stressed there were “severe limitations on Council budgets” and noted the decisions Sedgemoor, Taunton Deane and Somerset County councils had made to reduce expenditure on the Canal.

Mike Slade, publicity officer for the IWA’s West Country branch, said: “It’s a wish list but we have funding from other sources and plenty of volunteers to help carry out the work.”

There will also be a clean-up of Bridgwater Dock on July 19. Call 01278-256961 or email mike.slade@waterways.org.uk.

Comments (5)

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12:32pm Thu 29 May 14

twinkles says...

I thought the lock gates between the docks and the Parrett were permanently closed a number of years ago.
I thought the lock gates between the docks and the Parrett were permanently closed a number of years ago. twinkles
  • Score: -1

1:50pm Thu 29 May 14

swjoduk says...

no mention of the Canal and River Trust who surely hold the key to anything being done on the canal!

No need to hold higher water levels, just dredge the canal, it is full of silt from Taunton to Bridgwater and barely a foot in depth from the silt to the water surface in many places.

The lock into the Parrett would probably need to be rebuilt at the cost of millions and flood risk would need to be fully addressed with the tidal cyles.

Besides all of the above, I would be in favour of improvements if properly planned and funded. Then again I would be in favour of re-constructing the Grand Western Canal from Taunton to Tiverton and the Chard to Ilminster canal!

Why stop there, rail stations at Langport and Wellington would be great and branch trains to Minehead, oh and rebuild some of the lost branch lines, Ilminster, Chard, Wiveliscombe........
........
no mention of the Canal and River Trust who surely hold the key to anything being done on the canal! No need to hold higher water levels, just dredge the canal, it is full of silt from Taunton to Bridgwater and barely a foot in depth from the silt to the water surface in many places. The lock into the Parrett would probably need to be rebuilt at the cost of millions and flood risk would need to be fully addressed with the tidal cyles. Besides all of the above, I would be in favour of improvements if properly planned and funded. Then again I would be in favour of re-constructing the Grand Western Canal from Taunton to Tiverton and the Chard to Ilminster canal! Why stop there, rail stations at Langport and Wellington would be great and branch trains to Minehead, oh and rebuild some of the lost branch lines, Ilminster, Chard, Wiveliscombe........ ........ swjoduk
  • Score: 4

3:21pm Thu 29 May 14

Orzula says...

No doubt offering exchanges through Bridgwater International..
No doubt offering exchanges through Bridgwater International.. Orzula
  • Score: -1

7:07pm Sat 31 May 14

Bridgy old Boy says...

The canal offers a fantastic recreational facility for the people of Bridgwaer and any attempt to improve accessibility and usage must be welcomed. Together with the development of the Meads Eco Park this offers a great opportunity and it's great to see local ward members fully engaged.
The canal offers a fantastic recreational facility for the people of Bridgwaer and any attempt to improve accessibility and usage must be welcomed. Together with the development of the Meads Eco Park this offers a great opportunity and it's great to see local ward members fully engaged. Bridgy old Boy
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Tue 3 Jun 14

bridgyt@ says...

brainstorming idea number 4
clean up the dog poo...
brainstorming idea number 4 clean up the dog poo... bridgyt@
  • Score: 2

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