IWA Gloucestershire & Herefordshire Branch

28 February 2024

The go-ahead from Stroud District Council’s Development Control Committee means reinstatement of the missing section of canal that was filled in during the construction of the M5 motorway in the 1960’s, get underway. This will include the construction of a new canal channel from John Robinson (Westfield) Lock at Eastington near Westfield Bridge to connect with the new channel already constructed at the A38 roundabout. IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group has already been busy excavating and restoring the lock, and this work will continue over a series of Canal Camps this summer. WRG is also looking at work on a nearby aqueduct.

The scheme in Eastington covers both sides of the M5 and includes a towpath with new pedestrian bridge, a new mooring basin with space for 44 non-residential moorings, and a two-storey building including café and canal basin manager’s accommodation.

Since Stroud District Council and Cotswold Canals Trust took on leadership of the project in 2008, 7.5 km of canal between Stroud and Stonehouse has been restored, transforming the route into a peaceful walking and cycling alternative to the busy adjacent A419, and created a vibrant new water habitat for nature. Other organisations involved in the Partnership supporting the project include Gloucestershire County Council, IWA, Canal & River Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. IWA is contributing to the work through its Waterway Recovery Group and the allocation of legacy funds towards restoration of the waterway.

The route approved by this planning permission diverts away from the historic route of the canal, since the original route was built on by a motorway junction, highway depot and A38 roundabout and link road. The new canal channel diverts south from Westfield Bridge before going under the motorway, sharing the existing river Frome underpass with a dividing wall that will act as a flood barrier.

Work on the Missing Mile has been scheduled into the engineering programme and will commence later this year in line with the planning conditions. A significant proportion of the works on both the Missing Mile and other sections of the canal will be Cotswold Canals Trust and WRG volunteer-led projects.

Cotswold Canals Trust is currently scaling up its restoration volunteer teams with the skills, equipment and resources required to deliver the project. WRG is currently recruitment for its summer Canal Camps programme. There are also local volunteering opportunities.

Funding for the work has come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Highways, public grants, charitable trusts, corporate sponsorship, legacies and private donations.

[The photo shows WRG work in progress on the John Robinson (formerly Westfield) Lock]