Hereford and Gloucester Canal Restoration


Planning for Restoration

Although much of the Hereford and Gloucester Canal has been filled in and in places has disappeared without trace, a surprising number of lock cottages, wharf buildings and bridges remain to be seen. Over the years the land upon which the canal ran has been distributed between a great many landowners.

A railway was built over most of the line of the canal between Gloucester to Ledbury, and in 1964 that closed too.

Work to restore the thirty-four miles of the canal is therefore complex but possible.

This belief has been furthered by the decisions of local authorities to acknowledge and protect the line of the Canal on local authority plans in both counties, which serves to draw attention to when developers show an interest in land along the canal corridor.

The Herefordshire Council Core Strategy/Local Plan 2011-2031 shows the protected line of the canal on its Core Strategy Policies Map, and includes specific references to the canal in a number of respects, notably in the context of the original Hereford canal terminus (Page 53 – Policy HD2 – Hereford City Centre), plans for development at Ledbury (Page 84 Policy LB2 – Land north of the Viaduct) and more generally on Page 137 Policy E4 – Tourism.

The Forest of Dean District Council's 2012 Adopted Core Strategy and 2018 Allocations Plan 2006 to 2026 also make references to the protected status of the line of the Canal- notably in the latter at Section AP8 on page 32 which refers to the canal's green credentials, and at Section AP9 on page 40.

References to canal restoration in Newent is made in Section AP79 Newent on page 150, and at Dymock on page 192, whilst maps showing the protected line of the canal start on page 355.

 

Strategy

In December 2019 the Trustees began work on a new Restoration Strategy Framework – intended to be inclusive of all members and are currently in a new consultation phase. 

At the same time all existing sites are helping to produce an annual plan of their restoration and maintenance intentions along with resources and budget requirements required.

The overall direction, prioritisation, and coordination will be managed by the Board of Trustees to ensure focus within the resources and opportunities available.

More on this will become available in due course.

Restoration Sites

Stretches of the canal at Monkhide, Yarkhill, Moat Farm, Oxenhall, and Over, along with the stone chamber of House Lock and the structure of Ell Brook Aqueduct at Oxenhall have been completely restored by trust volunteers.

In addition work, has been carried out at Burcott Road and Aylestone Park in Hereford,  Kymin East, Dymock, and at Llanthony Lock.

Working with the Waterways Recovery Group, the original canal basin at Over, where the Canal connected with the River Severn, has been reconstructed. This was the largest all volunteer canal restoration project in the UK in 1999-2000. Since then, Vineyard Hill, a stretch of similar length, has also been brought back into water

The Wharf House at Over Basin, just west of Gloucester was built on the site of the old lock cottage that once stood overlooking the banks of the River Severn.  The shell of the building was constructed for the Trust by Swan Hill Homes. Inside, Trust volunteers completed the entire fit-out, much of it using material recycled from the Hospital buildings that once stood near by, to provide a restaurant, offices and visitor centre.  Our volunteers later added seven luxury bedrooms.

In 2019 the building was let out to a third party providing an ongoing income stream for the Trust, and is now trading as The Lock Keepers and The Moorings.

Current Restoration Sites

  • Enabling work has recently commenced on restoring the section of canal between the already restored House Lock and Ell Brook Aqueduct structures.  This project will include re-construction of a lock chamber destroyed during the bnuilding of the Gloucester-Ledbury railway, and excavation of a much overgrown and infilled section of canal channel
  • Plans have also been recently announced for the creation of an inclined plane arrangement to facilitate the passage of boats through the Newent station site
  • A variety of new structures have been created by a well-established team carrying out conditional works of the river bridges and other agreed work on a farm as part of an arrangement to secure land transfer to the Trust at Malswick.   This work was completed in 2021, and in 2022 we moved onto several other bridges over streams, a new swing bridge off the B4215, a new lock and ¾ mile of Canal restoration. This will include considerable areas for conservation in the cuttings and years of work from undergrowth clearance, machine work and two major structures. Above all, this delivers a very high-profile site alongside the main road and directly accessible from Malswick House
  • Restored canal channel maintenance continues at Aylestone Park in Hereford,  Yarkhill and Kymin East

Click on any of the images below to find out more about restoration projects.

Stretches of the Canal that can be visited by the public:

  • Aylestone Park
  • Kymin East
  • Yarkhill
  • Oxenhall
  • Over and Vineyard Hill,

Completed Projects and Maintained sites

As our work progresses and lengths of the canal corridor have been restored, our volunteers strive to keep the areas well maintained, ensuring the towpaths are clear and the undergrowth under control.

Where appropriate stretches are excavated and a navigable channel and functional towpath created. Some of the sites are not always open to public at this point. This is dependent on the land agreements at the time of acquiring the land.

Heritage Boats

In late 2005 British Waterways – now Canal & River Trust – announced it was to completely upgrade it’s work boat fleet. Many of its boats would be disposed of and replaced by new, purpose-built vessels. Those to be disposed of would be divided into two categories, those with ‘heritage value’ and those without.

The vessels being without ‘heritage value’ would be sold off, while those with would be given to voluntary bodies that could prove that they had the wherewithal to restore these vessels and use them appropriately. As a canal trust with albeit only short stretches of canal H&G CT thought that ‘proper’ boats would be good for the canal and began to take an interest in the ‘heritage boats’ that BW were making available.

The first boat that The H&G CT acquired was Alder in May 2006. Since then further boats have joined the fleet and much work has been done by enthusiastic teams of volunteers both on the engines, the outer structures. Extensive cleaning and preparation was carried out by Trust volunteers before it painting could begin. The boats now look great painted in the H&G house colours!

H&G CT is immensely grateful to British Waterways for their generosity in donating our Heritage Boat fleet for use on the Hereford and Gloucester Canal.

More on our Heritage Boats

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