A bid for £8.9 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to complete renovations of the missing mile of the Stroudwater canal, led by Labour members for Stonehouse of Stroud District Council, has been successful. This will allow the completion of years of work by volunteers to restore Stroud District to the national canal network.
Cllr Chis Brine (Stonehouse) said “As a ward councillor I have supported the reopening of the canal as far back as 2001 and always advocated that one day we would be successful and create an amazing stretch of waterway, it is one of the most exciting things to happen in the District in my time as a councillor and I am very proud to say I played a part in it.”
The Canal was built in 1779 and connected Stroud to the River Severn but now connects to the Gloucester and Sharpness canal which in turn allows travel across the nation. It also connects to the Thames and Severn Canal in Brimscombe, which eventually could allow travel to Oxford and London.
Cllr Mattie Ross (Stonehouse) said “We have kept the faith all these years as Stonehouse councillors, and defended the large amount of regeneration funds from the District going into the canal project which will now benefit the entire area. The reality of turning left for Stonehouse from Saul will now be realised creating a community asset for all. A days cruising will bring people to the gateway of Stroud District.”
This renovation is a huge opportunity for Stroud District, there are now more boats using Britain’s canals than there were in their 18th and 19th century boom. This will bring up to £100 million (SDC:2020) to district through tourism and private investment to the area at a time when it is sorely needed, as it recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic. There are other benefits as well, the district will now benefit from a connected walking and cycling route stretching from Stroud, to Stonehouse, to Berkeley and Gloucester, completely free of roads.
Cllr Gary Powell (Stonehouse) said “I’d like to take the time to thank all the volunteers who have put incalculable hours of work and will continue to do so to finish the connection, they have allowed our dreams to become a reality.”
Leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell had this to add: “This is fantastic news and will bring all sorts of benefits, economic, environmental and health and well-being to the whole district. This demonstrates the full strength of cross-party support that has been encouraged under Labour’s leadership of the District Council.”