For our October meeting we had Ted Beagles to give us an illustrated talk on the work of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust, commonly referred to as the Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust. The canal originally ran 34 miles from Herford to Gloucester.
Ted explained that the Trust developed from the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Society which was formed in 1983 with the aim raising awareness of the Canal and preserving what structures remained with little thought of full restoration. However, things took a great step forward in 1992 when the Society was reconstructed into the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust with the stated aim of complete restoration, with Trust becoming a registered charity.
Ted went on to give a history of the canal and the restoration work carried out, a brief synopsis follows.
The canal was given its Enabling Act of parliament in 1791, with construction beginning, from Gloucester, in 1793. In 1795 it reached Newent in 1795 and Ledbury in 1832, it taking 38 years due to unforeseen construction and financial problems (nothings changed!) Finally in 1884 the canal reached the centre of Hereford. It was never very profitable, and with the coming of the railways its days were numbered. Ironically though its most profitable couple of years were carrying construction material for the railways. The canal finally closed in 1881, having been sold in 1862 to the Great Western and Midland Railways. Much of the canal course was filled in and used for the Gloucester to Hereford railway by the GWR.
Although much of the canal has been filled in and in places has disappeared altogether, a number of lock cottages, wharf buildings and bridges remain to be seen. Stretches of the canal at Monkhide, Yarkhill, Aylestone and Oxenhall have been restored and the stone chamber of House Lock at Oxenhall has been completely restored. Also the original canal basin at Over, where the Canal connected with the River Severn, has been reconstructed. Currently being worked on are sites at Moat Farm and Kymin East.
How long before the entire 34 miles is restored is anyone’s guess, but the Trust is determined to get there – eventually.
Chair & Secretary