Kyrle Probus Club
   of Ross-on-Wye


Visit to Over basin, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal
Canal BasinThe Canal Basin at Over, near Gloucester


A HIDDEN treasure in the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire countryside is gradually being revealed with the restoration of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire canal.and Kyrle Probus Club members, wives and guests were given a glimpse of what has and is being achieved when they visited Over Basin and Wharf House near Gloucester.

The restoration of the canal is being carried out by volunteer members of the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust and one of the active volunteers taking part in the restoration is Kyrle Probus member and former club president, Robin Nicol.

Robin gave the Probus party an overview of the past, present and the future aspirations for the canal. He explained that the canal was built in two stages, the first from Gloucester to Ledbury being completed in 1798. An Act of Parliament had to be obtained for the next stage from Ledbury to Hereford, which was not started until 1839 and was completed in 1845.

It was one of the last canals to be built in Britain and when completed, the 34 miles long waterway had 23 locks, three tunnels, the longest being one-and-a-half miles long which today runs under the M50 motorway at Oxenhall and two aquaducts.

The Hereford and Gloucester Canal Society was formed in 1983 with the aim of restoring the canal as a wholly navigable waterway. When the size of the task was realised it was decided to form the Herefodshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust, which today has some 1,300 members.

The Kyrle Probus Gang

Restoration work has been concentrated in five sites to date – Llanthony Lock and cottages in Gloucester Docks, Oxenhall near Newent, Yarkhill, Aylestone Park in Hereford and the Over Basin. Work began in 1998 on excavating the Basin, which had been filled in when the former isolation hospital was built there in 1903 and some 5,000 cubic metres of material was removed to restore the basin. A plaque marks the opening of the basin in 2000 by the actors and boating enthusiasts Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

The Wharf House was built on the site of the old lock cottage and the shell of the new building was provided by a construction company. Trust volunteers built the internal walls and fitted it out, much of the material used for this being recycled from the old hospital building.

The Wharf House now includes a restaurant, tea room and visitor centre, together with seven luxury bedrooms upstairs providing high quality B & B, the aim being to provide an ongoing stream of income for the Trust.


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