My, doesn't summer come around quicker these days. Nostalgia not being what it used to be I can hardly believe it is a year since I was last talking about our events for Wantage Summer Festival. This year we did two walks and a talk. The talk was to the Friends of the Vale & Downland Museum in Wantage. As usual I rambled on for an hour and an half until the assembled masses started crawling up the walls and begging for mercy. Actually it was very well received and brought forth some interesting comments and historical notes for the future. At some time we will putting in a permanent display at the museum. It already has a super section on the Wantage Tramway. It really ought to have a bit more on the canal, seeing as how the Wharf was where the stone to build, amongst other things, the convent and several of the churches were brought in.
Talking of Wantage Wharf, the buildings are no more having been demolished the day after my talk. I hope that was only a coincidence. Any notes as to the whereabouts of the stone with 1830 engraved on it would be welcome. It is a pity that by the time the Amenity Group was formed the damage to the old branch into Wantage was already substantially done i.e. the building of the housing estate over the canal line. The remains of Belmont Bridge stand forlornly alongside the footpath on the old route a small reminder of the Wantage Branch.
The two walks this year were the usual West Challow to Grove walk (a very nice evening walk eastwards) and secondly a much longer walk from Abingdon Wharf to Grove. It happened to be the hottest Sunday for some time. A hardy crew set out from Abingdon in mid-morning and struck out South-west for Grove, looking at the various remains on the way. Tythe Barn lock is now buried under back gardens and the tow path public footpath which runs between houses is overgrown with nettles and bramble. Drayton lock is reached a few hours later, and then following the dried out bed of the canal Steventon Lock comes next. The clearance work on Drayton Lock and the canal to the south is still evident even in the summer undergrowth. On the other side of the Hanney/Steventon Road the public footpath does not follow the canal. We eventually managed to get to Ardington Bottom Lock, and it is rather strangely partially intact.
With the landowners permission we followed the canal from the railway bridge to the Lockinge Estate Road where in the late afternoon and in the face of mounting tiredness and impenetrable undergrowth we called it quits for the day and I phoned for lifts.
So much for the talks:- At West Challow work continues apace, with some very well attended work parties. We lost one of our stalwarts i.e. Steve who has moved up north to Durham. He will be sorely missed. Much work is going on at the stretch east of the Childrey footpath where preparations for the permissive footpath between the West Challow Road Bridge and the Childrey footpath continue. The bank at the back of the West Challow cemetery has been tidied and fenced and we should shortly be starting to fence westwards. More news in the next edition.
Hot off the press. Last Saturday we had a clearance workparty at Abingdon where the contractors have started work on the new junction. Very exciting. By the next Dragonfly this should have been completed.
As Abingdon is getting very exciting it would appear a good time to try to restart the Abingdon Branch. I shall be arranging an interest meeting in the Autumn. However if any Abingdon members would like to get going earlier please contact me
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