Brimscombe - Stroud
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This section of the canal has received attention both
from canal obliterators and canal restorers. Into the 1950s, much of
canal in this stretch would have been in good condition with original
still holding water following its closure in 1933.
Picture: Swimming in Griffins Mill Lock in the 1930s
However, the 1960s saw the destruction of Brimscombe port then
west of the port, Hope Mill Lock end up infilled and under the
site and this was followed in the 1980s with the infilling of the canal
the eastern end of the section to allow the Stroud east-west bypass to
the canal bridge under the railway viaduct. Although a navigation
was built to carry the canal under the road, the canal was not
at the time in order to save money.
But things could have been much worse. Gloucestershire County Council
had previously come up with three schemes to implement the bypass - two
would have obliterated the canal over a considerable distance and the
third involved knocking down rather a lot of Stroud! The residents of
Stroud were given
the opportunity to choose which they wanted.
The Canal Trust managed to identify a fourth route which avoided the
canal except for the bridge under the viaduct and, after a lot of
lobbying and a helpful vote by Stroud District Council which
effectively killed the GCC schemes, the bypass was built to the
Trust's design. This battle effectively ended the threat to the canal
from road builders - except for when the Dept of Transport decided not
to bother with a canal bridge at Latton (see Latton Page).
Stroudwater Canal Society, finding itself largely prevented from
working on the Stroudwater Navigation, started work at Bowbridge in the
early 1970s. It is due to this work that much of the canal in this
length still holds
water and supports such a rich environment - indeed, the whole length
have been dry and totally overgrown by scrub without this work. In
the Stroudwater Canal Society became the Stroudwater, Thames &
Canal Trust and this now operates under the Cotswold Canals Trust name.
Picture: Installing paddle gear at Bowbridge Lock in the mid-1970s
Following river "improvement" works (a euphemism for taking away the
low weirs in the river needed to maintain a water feed into the canal)
by the NRA (now EA) and the obstruction caused by the bypass, much of
these once well supplied lengths struggle to stay full in the summer.
The restoration works between Bowbridge and Hope Mill were quite
extensive involving major structural repairs to the heads of Bowbridge
and Ham Mill Locks and whole of Griffins Mill Lock. Indeed, had there
not been a problem with a landowner, Griffins Mill Lock would have been
Stantons Bridge and Bagpath Bridge, both of brick, were restored from a
fairly rough state as was Jubilee Bridge with its wrought iron
balustrades which carries a footpath.
A great deal of dredging was carried out by volunteers using an old
Priestman dragline crane although over time, the effects of this works
less apparent as reed growth has encroached and even choked the channel
with no boats to keep it at bay.
In the late 1980s, a large chunk of Ham Mill Bridge collapsed into the
canal. A few years earlier and this would have resulted in its
and culverting. As it was, attitudes were changing and the bridge was
by the County Council who then went of to carry out repairs and
maintenance to many other original canal bridges within their ownership.