History of the Grand Union Canal – Slough Arm
A branch from the Grand Junction Canal at Bulls Bridge to Slough was first proposed in 1878. However, altering the route slightly after a survey in 1879 moved the junction to Cowley Peachey. Later on, the canal opened in 1882 having required major earthworks at Iver. It is 5 miles long without locks and has 5 aqueducts.
The canal transported bricks from the various Slough brickworks. Furtheremore, it also catalysed the establishment of various sand, brick and gravel wharfs along the line. The existing brickworks expanded their production and transported bricks to many parts of London. Traffic on the canal grew rapidly and reached a peak in 1905 when over 192,000 tons were carried. The Brick and Gravel trade continued throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s and also through the War Years but, by then, the clay and gravel deposits were becoming worked out. Traffic of waste from London to infill the redundant pits carried on for a while as did the delivery of timber to Slough Wharf. The last recorded commercial cargo took place in March 1960.
With no future seen for the canal, Slough council proposed filling it in for an access road to a new Industrial Estate. The Slough Canal Group, supported by the Slough Observer, vigorously campaigned to restore and re-open the canal in 1975. There have been several proposals to make a connection from the terminus to the River Thames as there is only 2 miles separating the two navigations.
Photo: Festival at Slough Arm on the Grand Union Canal by Lucy Smith.