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Gough's Orchard lock undergoing restoration by Waterway Recovery Group, August 2009. This lock is immediately west of Brimscombe Port, on the Thames and Severn Canal, which was the eastern end of Phase 1a of the restoration project.

The Cotswold Canals Trust (previously the Stroudwater and Thames and Severn Canal Trust) is an English registered charity[1] that aims to protect and restore the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames and Severn Canal. The group was founded in 1972, and was initially called the Stroudwater Canal Society. The society became the Stroudwater, Thames and Severn Canal Trust in 1975 as the scope of the project increased,[2] and subsequently became the Cotswold Canals Trust in July 1990.[3]



The development of the Trust began in 1972, when Michael Ayland investigated canals near to his home at Saul Junction, and discovered that the Stroudwater Navigation was in the process of being filled in. He mentioned his concern, that this was happening while other canals were being opened, to Allan Guy, then working for the Bristol Evening Post and the paper carried an article announcing that the canal was to be re-opened to Stroud. Although Ayland had not said so, people responded to the article and he was inundated with phone calls from people offering to help. Shortly afterwards, the newspaper carried a statement from the Company of Proprietors of the Stroudwater Navigation, to the effect that they owned the canal and had no intentions to reopen it. However, Ayland now had a small group of enthusiasts around him and they decided to hold a public meeting to judge the level of support. Having originally booked a small room for the meeting, on the assumption that about 20 people might attend, they realised that the numbers might exceed one hundred, and booked a larger room. In the event, over three hundred people attended the meeting, held in May 1972, at which John Humphries from the Inland Waterways Association spoke of other restoration projects then being undertaken and the outcome was the formation of the Stroudwater Canal Society.[4]

Membership of the fledgeling society increased quite quickly, but it soon became obvious that many of those joining wanted to see the complete restoration of the canal and the Thames and Severn Canal, to provide a link to the River Thames. When a more formal structure was required, the society reformed as the Stroudwater, Thames and Severn Canal Trust. The title was later changed to the rather shorter Cotswold Canals Trust.[4]

Aims and activitiesEdit

The current aim is to restore the canals between Saul Junction, where the Stroudwater Canal joins the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal and Lechlade, where the Thames and Severn Canal joins the River Thames. Among other activities over 1,000 hours has been put into clearing the canal between Lechlade and Sapperton.

The trust ran monthly trips into the Sapperton Tunnel until these were halted for conservancy reasons.[5] An agreement allowing them to restart was reached in 2006 between the trust and English Nature.

The trust has a partnership with the Rural Skills Centre at the Royal Agricultural University. This has allowed volunteers to learn how to operate diggers, chainsaws and brush cutters.

The TrowEdit

The Trust have published a quarterly magazine entitled The Trow since February 1973, to update members with details of progress and activities.[6] The magazine takes its name from the Severn trow, a flat-bottomed, wooden cargo boat with a collapsible sailing mast, used on the River Severn. The Trust's logo also features an outline drawing of a trow.

The first edition of The Trow carried news that over 200 people had joined the society, that a meeting had been held with Gloucestershire County Council in October 1972, at which they had been able to explain their plans for restoration, and that following the refusal of the Department of the Environment to take action on the Proprietors request for a public enquiry into the restoration of the canal, the Proprietors had offered a section of the canal to the Society.[6]

See alsoEdit


  • Cragg, Roger (1997). Civil Engineering Heritage: Wales and West Central England (2nd ed.). ICE Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-7277-2576-9.
  • Diprose, Graham; Robins, Jeff (2007). The River Thames Revisited: In the Footsteps of Henry Taunt. Frances Lincoln. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7112-2765-1.
  • "Distribution of Grant Support" (PDF). Stroud District Council. October 2005.
  • "News" (PDF). Cotswold Canals Partnership. December 2006.
  • "Rural Skills". Royal Agricultural College.
  • Squires, Roger (2008). Britain's restored canals. Landmark Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84306-331-5.


  1. ^ Charity Commission. Cotswold Canals Trust, registered charity no. 269721.
  2. ^ Squires 2008, p. 78
  3. ^ "Trow Vol 70" (PDF). Cotswold Canals Trust. September 1990. p. 8.
  4. ^ a b Ayland, Alan. "History of the Trust". Cotswold Canals Trust. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Sapperton Tunnel Boat Trips". Gloucestershire County Council. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Trow 001" (PDF). Cotswold Canals Trust. Retrieved 28 December 2011.

External linksEdit