Volunteers are planning an ambitious project for the New Year, as part of their ongoing campaign to restore a former waterway through North Wiltshire.
The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust has almost finished dredging the former line from Pewsham to Reybridge, rebuilding the towpath and filling the canal bed with water for the first time in more than a century.
Their next step is to consider how to make the most of the locks and dry-dock which have been cleared of rubbish and undergrowth.
The charity hopes to restore the structures and eventually have them filled with water and connected to the rest of the canal.
But it is also keen to receive any photographs, drawings or other documents which might reveal how they once looked.
Trust director Colin Fletcher said: “We have been delighted with the progress made in dredging the canal over the last few months.
“We have received so many kind comments from walkers, cyclists and other residents who have been impressed by everything that has been achieved so far and asking about our plans for the future.
“Our next step will be to breathe new life into Pewsham Locks, which once raised the canal almost 30 feet on the journey north towards Chippenham.
“Excavations suggest it would have been a busy site, with a carpenters’ workshop, sawpit, dry-dock and lime-kilns, as well as the lock-keeper’s cottage.”
The aim of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is to restore the waterway from the Kennet & Avon Canal near Melksham to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon, connecting Chippenham, Calne, Wootton Bassett and Swindon.
Mr Fletcher said: “We have already found several pieces of metalwork and pottery and even a handrail from the top of one of the lockgates, still attached to the gate itself, but we are keen to learn even more about the history of this site.”
Trust member Peter Williams said maintaining the canal and its locks was an important cultural duty.
He said: “It is part of our heritage.
“The canal was the equivalent of the M4. It would have been very busy, bringing trade and helping to grow Chippenham.”
To offer information or to volunteer, call Mr Fletcher on (01380) 828254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.