are people who want to reopen the canal link through the Cotswolds
and those who have spent the last 15 years filling in the hole in
the garden where it once ran.
dream of boats plying the historic Sapperton Tunnel again, and waterborne
tourists spending money in the area.
are vehemently opposed to the ambitious restoration plans and ask:
why renovate an out of date transport system?
BBC West's Inside Out on Monday (June 16) John Craven, one of the
most most familiar faces on BBC television, returns to the Stroud
Valley to pick up the thread of a story that all began for him back
in 1974 when he was a reporter on BBC Points West.
Back then it looked as if a restoration of the famous old waterway
was imminent. But as John now says: "Perhaps I was being a
little optimistic time wise."
years on, however, things have moved on. An £80 million funding
package has been put together, with the support of people like Prince
Charles, and work has begun to bring the canal back to life again.
Greenslade dreams of seeing
the canal link between
Severn and Thames fully restored
the bleak days of those last 30 years, when all hope of restoration
looked lost, the volunteers of the Cotswold Canals Trust refused
to give up hope.
managed to restore small sections of the canal at Stonehouse, outside
Greenslade, the man who leads them today, says: "We've had
a 30-year campaign to keep it open."
We're lucky now that with British Waterways and the Waterways
Trust coming on board that within the next five years we'll
see the canal open to Stroud and within the next seven to 10
years fully open to link the Severn with the Thames again.
campaigner Dudley Greenslade
been threatened with road widenings - in fact part of it nearly
became the A419.
lucky now that with British Waterways and the Waterways Trust coming
on board that within the next five years we'll see the canal open
to Stroud and within the next seven to 10 years fully open to link
the Severn with the Thames again."
Dudley and his group are a dedicated bunch who spend a lot of time
on the Stroudwater Navigation, which runs from Saul junction on
the Severn to just west of Stroud, and the Thames and Severn Canal
which now has only few navigable stretches between Stroud and the
Thames at Lechlade.
called the wrinkly brigade. We're all retired. Our average age is
68, some of us have gone 70, and we come here on a Monday and Wednesday
and we work until we're tired."
The volunteers don't limit themselves to cutting the grass on the
their boatyard at Stonehouse they've been getting up to all sorts
to swell the restoration funds - repairing and selling old boats,
turning disused caravan bases into boat trailers - they've even
restored an old ice cream van.
Craven at Sapperton Tunnel,
one of the greatest achievements
of the canal-building age
has their own reason for getting involved. For some it's the memory
of a relative who worked on the canal before its closure in the
1940s, for some a way of keeping active in retirement, and for others
it's a way of keeping alive a fond memory of a narrow boat holiday
many years ago on the Grand Union canal.
fact it was seeing what had been achieved by other canal restorations
like the Kennet and Avon, that has driven the volunteers of Stroud
on. As one of says: "Stroud was crying out for it."
his TV update on the ambitious canal campaign John Craven also visited
one of the true achievements of the canal building age, the Sapperton
of the famous two-mile long tunnel have now collapsed but at the
Coates end it is possible to take a boat trip inside it.
are organised by the Cotswold Canala Trust but only run on certain
weekends of the year when conditions are just right.
I'm sure there are many better things that the money could be
spent on. I don't see why the Cotswolds needs that canal.
opponent Una Black
Briggs from British Waterways is responsible for the conversation
aspect of the restoration and told John: "What is amazing about
these great feats of engineering is that they have now become habitats
for wildlife. Inside the tunnel we now have bats."
Conservation of natural habitat along the Stroud canal corridor
is one of the major concerns of the restorers.
have to balance that with the economic gains it will bring to the
area and with the heritage aspect of restoring a canal that served
the woollen industry of the Stroud valleys since it was first opened
job for those in charge is convincing everyone that restoring this
old waterway is a good idea. Not everyone agrees that it is.
the village of Kempsford, close to where the canal will meet the
Thames, Connie Wilson and her neighbour Una Black have no desire
to see it open again.
live right on the line of the canal, in fact it runs right through
their back gardens - or did until it was filled in many years ago.
says: "I'm sure there are many better things that the money
could be spent on. I don't see why the Cotswolds needs that canal."
and Una now face the prospect of contractors digging up their back
gardens to put the canal back and even the possibility of compulsory
purchase orders being placed on their homes.
is no other amenity that brings so much to a community. There's
walking, dog walking, jogging, bird watching, fishing, boating,
education benefits - it'll be great for everyone in Stroud.
campaigner Dudley Greenslade
would be very angry", says Connie, "and I think many people
in the village would agree. We came here to get peace and quiet
and people here don't want the crowds that the canal will bring."
But the work goes on, and British Waterways say that they will be
doing everything they can to address the concerns of people like
Connie and Una.
Back in Stroud Dudley Greenslade has no doubts about how important
the canal will be to the people of the Stroud area.
is no other amenity that brings so much to a community," he
says. "There's walking, dog walking, jogging, bird watching,
fishing, boating, education benefits - it'll be great for everyone
And what does John Craven think of it all? He admits he is not an
mad about canals, in fact I'm vice-president of the Waterways Trust."
the betting he'll be back in Stroud for the official opening?
Out on the Stroud Canal is on BBC1 in the West, Monday June 16,