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The Prince of Wales to sail on Stroud’s newly restored canal

Published: Monday, 29 January, 2018

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will visit Stroud to officially open the newly restored Wallbridge Lower Lock on Friday, 2 February.

During his visit, The Prince will board the narrowboat Perseverance at Wallbridge Upper Lock and descend through it, before cutting a ribbon and entering the Lower Lock. He will then meet officials and many volunteers who have worked on the project. The event will culminate in the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the completion of canal restoration between Stonehouse and Thrupp and the reconnection of the Stroud Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal.

"We are honoured that The Prince of Wales has agreed to mark this historic event," said Cllr Gary Powell, Chair of Stroud District Council, which is hosting the event.

 "His visit marks the completion of the first major phase of canal restoration, but more importantly, it is a thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have turned the project into reality. It is also a thank you to the organisations which have funded it, especially the Heritage Lottery Fund."

The Prince of Wales has a long-standing interest in the waterways as Patron of the Canal & River Trust, a charity which protects over 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. The Canal & River Trust is a partner in the Cotswold Canals Project of which His Royal Highness is a long-standing supporter, having opened Blunder Lock and visited Sapperton Tunnel.           

The restoration has been led by Stroud District Council, with the assistance of partners including the Cotswold Canals Trust and Gloucestershire County Council. It was largely funded by National Lottery players through a £12.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who will be represented at the event by Sir Peter Luff, Chair of HLF and Stephen Boyce, Chair of HLF’s South West Committee.

 "We are impressed with the tremendous achievement in restoring the canal channel and its structures,” said Sir Peter Luff.

"Together with the work accomplished by volunteers, this project would not have been possible without money raised by National Lottery players. It’s fantastic to see the impact of that investment and the benefits it is having for communities, wildlife and heritage. Congratulations to everyone involved."

The Cotswold Canals project has transformed six miles of canal, much of which was derelict wasteland, and is now enjoyed by the whole community.

The project has involved the restoration of the canal channel, 10 locks and 8 new bridges. The canal is now a thriving wildlife habitat with fish passes and bat holes built into structures, reed fringes left and a conservation-led public park established at Capel’s Mill, Stroud. It includes a hydro electric turbine which supplies green energy to the national grid. Inward investment into the canal corridor now stands at £115 million since 2006.

Two community organisations have been created as a result of the project – Cotswold Boatmobility, which provides accessible boating for people with mobility or learning disabilities, and Cotswold Canals Knowledge, which has so far involved over 2,000 school and college pupils in canal-based learning.

Members of the public and school parties will be able to get a good view of the proceedings from several different vantage points.

"We very much hope that locals will turn out and give his Royal Highness a warm Stroud welcome," concluded Cllr Powell.

 

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