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Melksham Link - an old canal on a new route

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The Wilts and Berks Canal used to run from the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington all the way to the Thames at Abingdon, but it was closed many years ago, and through Melksham the old route has long since become impractical to reopen. (old route)

There is currently a proposal that a new section of canal be built, from Semington via Berryfield up to the River Avon near the bypass bridge. Boats would then proceed into the town centre, giving Melksham the potential of a lovely waterfront and a boost to businesses in the town. As a further stage, a new canal cut to the north of the town would rejoin the old course of the Wilts and Berks canal as it headed off toward Lacock and beyond.

Melksham is the most major significant blockage that prevents the canal from being reopened for a considerable distance ... and indeed there are potential solutions in hand all the way up to the Thames. I have added a rather longer piece of text if you want to read more - pros and cons - ([here]).


[imgr=can_ill_1]Kennet and Avon at Bowerhill, Melksham[/img] It is proposed that a swing bridge similar to this one would be provided on the new canal section - so this is a scene you may see repeated closer to the town.

[imgl=can_ill_4]River Avon in Bath[/img]There have been concerns about boats using the river, and these need to be addressed. However, boats already use the same River Avon in Bath and through to Bristol, so it should be possible to overcome any local difficulties on this score in Melksham.

[imgr=can_ill_3]River Avon near Melksham[/img]Here is a scene in Melksham on the River Avon - the sort of scene you might see repeated anywhere on the stretch of the river from near Trowbridge through to the Chippenham are. This particular picture, though, is at Conigre Mead where boats would pass by.

[imgl=can_ill_6]Melksham Link at Berryfield[/img]This is where the canal would pass Berryfield - giving good access from the Semington Road and a focal point for the community. A fixed bridge, protected with safety fencing, would be provided here, a play are would need to be moved, and the Berryfield village hall (a portable building) would need to be moved or replaced. With funding available, that could be a wonderful opportunity to invigorate the community.

[imgr=can_ill_2]Challymead Bridge[/img]The name "Challymead Bridge" sounds romantic - but actually it carries Melksham Bypass! In the proposal, the canal would join the river just the other side of the bridge, and boats would pass underneath. There would also be a footpath (tow path in canal terms) to provide safe crossing of the road for pedestrians and cyclists.


[imgl=can_ill_5]Canal Route beside bypass[/img]Here's a picture showing the current bypass, and where the canal would run alongside.

Map locator - Melksham_Link_Canal
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