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Wallbridge marks the western end of the Thames and Severn
Canal and its junction with the Stroudwater Navigation. It is also one of
the place name shown on the mileposts along with Inglesham although interestingly,
the mile plates spell Wallbridge with only one "L".
Almost all of the canal at Wallbridge was destined to be destroyed as it
had been identified at the preferred route for the Stroud east-west bypass.
Three possible routes were proposed with two using a substantial length of
canal and the third (expensive) route involving the demolition of many properties.
The proposition was "accept the destruction of the canal or we will knock
down much of Stroud".
There was a stand off with the Stroudwater, Thames & Severn Canal Trust
(now the Cotswold Canals Trust) and a landmark victory when Stroud District
Council voted 24 to 7 against the canal being destroyed. An amendment proposed
by one of the 7 stating that this did not necessarily mean that the District
Council would provide any funding for the canal was defeated with the implication
that funding would be forthcoming.
This left Stroud without a viable bypass route and it was the then Canal
Trust Chairman, Richard Veevers, who proposed a forth route which was to become
Dr Newton's way. This used the canal bridge under the railway for the road
but left an alternative route for the canal as well as retaining Wallbridge
Upper lock and about half a mile of canal that would otherwise have gone.
It also resulted in the first new road bridge to be built over the T&S
Canal since its abandonment in 1933 and set a trend for a series of new or
replacement bridges as the County Highways department did not want another
run in with the Trust. In any event, attitudes were changing and excuses
were being found to help rather than hinder the future restoration of the
With the canal secure, a number of initiatives were taken at Wallbridge.
The first major step was the restoration of Wallbridge Upper Lock itself by
the Stroud Valleys Project. This started in 1990 and a new set of lower gates
were fitted which reused recycled timber from a set of old emergency stop
gates from the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal which had just been replaced
by BW. Unfortunately insufficient heavy timber work was used, and once dried
out, the recycled timber tended to split rendering these gates unusable. The
top gates were eventually finished off and installed by the Canal Trust.
Immediately above the lock is Wallbridge Upper Wharf and warehouse. This
was built to compete with the Stroudwater Canal's wharf at the terminus basin
of that canal. The warehouse has survived in spite of heavy redevelopment
of the site and should continue to do so even when the site is redeveloped
again in the near future.
A few hundred yards further upstream of the lock, the steep bank on the
north side of the canal has slipped at one place and has nearly blocked the
Below Wallbridge Upper Lock and the A46 main road is a short section
of recently dredged canal adjacent to what was once Stroud Brewery. On the
west side of the A46, the remains of Wallbridge Lower Lock can be found in
an unrestored state. A low concrete dam has been placed across the upper
gate recess and the canal here carries the water of Slad Brook which entered
the canal under the A46 crossing. The north bank above the lock has been
built up to a ridiculous degree and still has the appearance of a tip - it
will pose issues for the restoration of the lock.
The canal between the A46 and the junction with the Stroudwater Canal passes
behind the Stroudwater Canal Headquarters building and parallel with the basin.
The towpath over this section was only reopened in recent years.
This whole area has changed out of all recognition from when the canal was
in operation but, apart from the A46 itself, the route is unobstructed.