Canal near Stroud to be restored thanks to heritage lottery grant of almost £9 million

The National Lottery has awarded a grant of almost £9 million to bring a stretch of canal near Stroud back into use. Credit: ITV West Country

The clock is to be turned back 70 years in Gloucestershire with the return of canals to Stroud and Stonehouse after the Cotswold Canals Connected Project was successful in winning a grant of almost £9 million from the National Lottery.

It means that four and a half miles of the Stroudwater Navigation will be restored, linking the two towns and joining the national waterway network at Saul junction.

It will be a difficult job. The canal at Stonehouse is overgrown, unnavigable and does not even exist in parts. It is a far cry from when it was in constant use in the 19th Century but volunteers are confident they can bring it back to life.

The Stroudwater Navigation in its heyday. Credit: Cotswold Canals Trust

With some hard work it will be connected to the recently restored section of canal in Stroud and link to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal - part of the country's main canal network.

Jim White from Cotswold Canals Trust says, "Boats will be able to come from Liverpool to Stroud. It will bring in visitors, jobs, social health and well-being - giving people the chance to walk, run, cycle. It regenerates an old canal town."

A flotilla of canal boats took to the recently-restored canal at Stroud to celebrate the lottery funding. Credit: ITV West Country

Cllr Doina Cornell, Leader of Stroud District Council, says it is fantastic news.

“The canal very much shaped the district in the past and, thanks to this National Lottery funding, will now do so in the future. I can’t think of any other project which benefits so many people in so many ways – and when outdoor pursuits are so important as we look forward to recovering from the Covid pandemic.”

Hundreds of volunteers worked to restore the canal in Stroud, now hundreds more will work on joining it to the national waterway network.

One of the volunteers says, "When I first came here, this part of canal was full of earth. It was nothing here but, to see it progress like this, I think it's marvellous."

Could boats be back on this missing canal link within three years? Credit: ITV West Country

The Stroudwater Navigation, was formally abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1954.

The restoration has already begun and it is hoped that, in just three years' time, the stretch between Stonehouse and Saul will be a usable canal once more, full of boats.