Over Canal Basin is located on the west bank of the River Severn on the outskirts of Gloucester at the point where the canal originally connected to the River Severn.
The site is on land of the former Over Isolation Hospital. The Trust’s interests began in 1993 when the Local Health Authority proposed to sell the land for development purposes. First clearance work on site began in February 1998. Later in the year work started on excavating the Basin, which had been filled in when the hospital was built in 1903.
First clearance work on site began in February 1998. Later in the year work started on excavating the filled in former basin.
The work was carried out by volunteers from the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust and teams of volunteers from the Waterways Recovery Group who had a number of work camps through 1999 and 2000. Up to 50 or 60 volunteers were working on the site on occasions.
The work co-incided with the demolition of the Over Hospital, that had at one time stood alongside, in readiness for a new housing development. Materials from the demolition were recycled by the Trust.
This included thousands of heavy Victorian bricks that went into the building of the wharf walls. The brick had to be picked from piles of rubble, sorted and the black mortar chiseled off of the surfaces ready for them to be re-laid.
Once the main walls were completed the curved entrance to the lock was constructed and a gabion wall built along the towpath side of the basin. The wharf wall was topped with blue coping bricks.
A hospital mortuary block had once stood across the line of the canal. Its heavy concrete foundations, although challenging, were successfully removed by the excavator team.
The slipway was laid with granite sets and the banks leading away from the basin sculptured into a gentle slope. These banks were seeded with grass and a wood chip towpath laid.
The clay that had lined the original basin was used to re-line the sides. when all was ready, the new basin was filled with water extracted from the River Leadon, at its confluence with the Severn, just upstreAam from the lock. The pump, watched by TV cameras, started the flow into the hollow. It took several days until the correct level was reached.
Work continued at Over with the building of The Wharf House, adding more features to the basin, aquisition of the fleet of Heritage Boats, and more recently the restoration of the next length of Canal at Vineyard Hill.
The Over Basin Project was completely in 2½ years at approximately 10% of a contractors price of £500,000, and was used as a case study at the World Canals Conference 2000 in New York State to demonstrate the power of not-for-profit commercial partnerships.
Over Basin offers pleasant towpath and riverside walks and is open to the public at most times.
The Lock Keepers, based in the former Wharf House building, now offers a fine range of food and refreshments.
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