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Planning for Restoration

Although much of the Hereford and Gloucester Canal has been filled in and in places has disappeared without trace, a surprising number of lock cottages, wharf buildings and bridges remain to be seen. Over the years the land upon which the canal ran has been distributed between a great many landowners.

A railway was built over most of the line of the canal between Gloucester to Ledbury, and in 1964 that closed too.

Work to restore the thirty-four miles of the canal is therefore complex but possible.

Local Authority Endorsement

This belief has been furthered by the decisions of local authorities to acknowledge and protect the line of the Canal on local authority plans in both counties, which serves to draw attention to when developers show an interest in land along the canal corridor.

The Herefordshire Council Core Strategy/Local Plan 2011-2031 shows the protected line of the canal on its Core Strategy Policies Map, and includes specific references to the canal in a number of respects, notably in the context of the original Hereford canal terminus (Page 53 – Policy HD2 – Hereford City Centre), plans for development at Ledbury (Page 84 Policy LB2 – Land north of the Viaduct) and more generally on Page 137 Policy E4 – Tourism.

The Hereford City Master Plan – A Vision for Our City in 2050 published in March 2023 states “The route of the former Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal provides and important ecological and historical asset for both Hereford and the wider county.  Ongoing plans to restore the canal should be brought right into the city centre with the creation of a new Hereford Terminus. Additional water-based recreation and community facilities should be provided within Aylestone Park, providing access to the water and interactions with nature for all.  The historic route of the canal, which is protected under Core Strategy Policy E4 of Hereford’s existing Local Plan, should be safeguarded through Hereford and reinstated as a blue-green active travel corridor along its towpath as a priority. Once the route is secured, aspirations for future rewetting, recreation and biodiversity enhancements can be delivered in partnership with the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust.”  See more on this here.

The Forest of Dean District Council’s 2012 Adopted Core Strategy and 2018 Allocations Plan 2006 to 2026 also make references to the protected status of the line of the Canal- notably in the latter at Section AP8 on page 32 which refers to the canal’s green credentials, and at Section AP9 on page 40.

References to canal restoration in Newent are made in Section AP79 Newent on page 150, and at Dymock on page 192, whilst maps showing the protected line of the canal start on page 355.


In December 2019 the Trustees began work on a new Restoration Strategy Framework – intended to be inclusive of all members and are currently in a new consultation phase. 

At the same time all existing sites are helping to produce an annual plan of their restoration and maintenance intentions along with resources and budget requirements required.

The overall direction, prioritisation, and coordination will be managed by the Board of Trustees to ensure focus within the resources and opportunities available.

More on this will become available in due course.

The Canal in 2024 – a brief summary of the condition of the canal in its various lengths

SectionLength (m)Condition
Hereford approach1550The western end of the canal including its former terminus basin at Canal Street has in part been lost beneath industrial development. Plans to create a new canal basin as part old the Cattle Market development (Edgar Street Grid) failed to materialise and access to the original basin site was cut off by the link road past the railway station. However, provision for a re-routed canal channel around the Widemarsh Retail Site has been made, and plans for a new terminal basin next to Widemarsh Brook are being considered. Much work needs to be done to secure a route for a restored canal through to Aylestone Park
Aylestone Tunnel700Largely intact and awaiting full investigation
Holmer135Partially infilled/in water alongside industrial development. Possibility of re-developing industrial area for residential use which will include restoration of the canal channel and towpath to the portal of Aylestone Tunnel
Aylestone Park230Canal channel restored and permanent boat launching slipway constructed by the Canal Trust. A new overflow weir manages water levels with flood water discharged to a tributary of the River Lugg.
Plans for a Community Basin are being considered
Aylestone to Kymin8400Flat section of canal crossing the flood meadows of the River Lugg and Sutton Marsh to Withington and onto Kymin. Line of canal poorly defined between Aylestone and Withington Wharf, with few signs of the Lugg Embankment and Aqueduct remaining.
Canal route far clearer from Withington Wharf to Kymin East
Kymin East Project895Canal channel and towpath largely restored between Westhide Lane and the site of Barrs Lock
Yarkhill Project1235Canal channel and towpath largely restored between the site of Barrs Lock and A4103 at Crews Pitch
Monkhide1435Canal channel and towpath largely restored between A4103 at Crews Pitch and Monksbury Court
Canon Frome2220Line of canal poorly defined between Monksbury Court and A417 at Canon Frome Wharf
Canon Frome to Ashperton1400Line of canal clearly defined and partly in water from A417 to north portal of Ashperton Tunnel.
Ashperton Tunnel375Largely intact and awaiting full investigation
Ashperton South755Line of canal clearly defined and partly in water from south portal of Ashperton Tunnel to Swinmore Farm.
Swinmore1285Line of canal poorly defined and dry between Swinmore Farm and Ledbury Railway Viaduct
Staplow6175Line of canal poorly defined and dry between Swinmore Farm and Ledbury Railway Viaduct
Ledbury2065Line of canal through Ledbury town totally subsumed by railway construction, but now restored as a greenway after railway was abandoned in 1960’s.
A new line for the canal will run north from the A449/A417 roundabout parallel to the A417 before passing underneath the railway viaduct. It will then pass around a new residential development north of the viaduct before re-joining the original route north. This new route should feature five new locks south of the railway
Ledbury to Dymock6535Line of canal lost beneath railway construction and subsequent land alterations
DymockDymock Canal Project saw construction of a “winding pool” as part of a recent residential development. More extensive canal restoration hopes to include this attractive feature as part of a slightly modified route
Dymock to Boyce Court850A short section of the canal here was lost beneath the railway, which swung away west to avoid the high ground to the south. The part of the canal not lost to the railway but little of the short section now remains north of Boyce Court
Boyce Court715The Boyce Court section of the canal was not ravaged by railway construction and remains intact although neglected in a deep wooded valley leading up to the north portal of Oxenhall Tunnel;
Oxenhall tunnel2030Largely intact and awaiting full investigation.
The M50 motorway and a gas transmission pipeline cross the tunnel
Oxenhall Tunnel to Oxenhall914The Oxenhall project runs south from Oxenhall Tunnel to the west edge of the Newent township. Tis section of canal has seen a great deal of restoration work undertaken and features the only lock structure still largely intact, a restored example of one of the former lock keepers cottages, the former Coal Canal extending 2000m to the sites of mining activity west of the village, and an substantial aqueduct over Ell Brook. Work to restore the two other Oxenhall Locks is in hand
Oxenhall Project1385The Oxenhall project runs south from Oxenhall Tunnel to the west edge of the Newent township. Tis section of canal has seen a great deal of restoration work undertaken and features the only lock structure still largely intact, a restored example of one of the former lock keepers cottages, the former Coal Canal extending to the sites of mining activity west of the village, and an substantial aqueduct over Ell Brook. Work to restore the two other Oxenhall Locks is in hand
Newent Station Project690The Trust now owns the site of the former station and a great deal of work has been undertaken to clear the detritus that has accumulated across the site over the past years. The station platforms remain largely intact and planning work is now in hand to recreate the station buildings to provide a cafe and visitor exhibition space.
Other plans are being worked on to develop the idea of an inclined plane sort of arrangement whereby narrow boats could be lifted from the water, and transported on rails through the former station and across the Ledbury Road before being lowered back in the water beyond the station to continue their journey.
Newent to Malswick3050The line of canal was lost beneath the railway and later the road bypass and will need to be recreated along a parallel route just to the north
Malswick West Project625Land along the route of the canal has been secured by the Trust and a major enabling scheme to construct a number of bridges and culverts has been completed.
In 2023, earthworks needed to create a new canal channel were commenced, and a long section of new canal channel has been formed. 2024 will see this lengthened further as an embankment is formed to carry the canal across low ground.
The Malswick House pub and restaurant is owned by The Trust and is let to a third party management team to provide an income stream for canal restoration
Malswick East Project430Land along the route of the canal has been secured by the Trust and plans are being developed to continue the Malswick West canal restoration work eastwards to include a replacement for Road Lock
Malswick to Moat Farm1070The line of canal was lost beneath the railway
Moat Farm Project545At Moat Farm a curving section of the former canal was bypassed by railway construction and remained largely undisturbed until restoration started in 2012. The canal channel and towpath have been cleared and the canal is now at least in part in water
Moat Farm to Over8430The line of the canal was lost beneath the former railway and is now poorly defined between Moat Farm and Over. No opportunities for restoration work have yet been identified
Over and Vineyard Hill Project545Over was the site of major restoration works which saw the now fully completed canal basin develop over the period from 1998 To the present. The basin was extended by restoration of the section of canal channel westwards past Vineyard Hill.
Over Basin is the site of The Wharf House, a commercial development by the Trust which is now let to a third party management team as The Lock Keepers.
Over Basin will eventually have a direct lock connection to the tidal River Severn, and thence to Gloucester Docks, the River Avon and the rest of the canal network.
Over Link Project40In late 2023 a new restoration project was launched and will focus on restoring Over Lock, which originally provided the important link between the Canal and the River Severn, and the rest of the canal system.

Please consider donating to the Trust to help us with our increasing range of opportunities to restore parts of the original canal.

Find out more about ways to donate.

Your donation can be made in aid of a specific cause or project, including land acquisition, planning and design work, canal channel and towpath construction or restoration, and environmental and wildlife habitat improvement works – the list is long!

Join the Trust and help us make a difference – you may be surprised at the number of ways in which you might be able to help us.

Rates start at just £10.00 per year.

Members of the Trust receive our quarterly magazine The Wharfinger, which contains news of restoration and the many other activities of the Trust.

The Trust has a number of its own very enthusiastic teams of volunteers working at various locations along the canal from Gloucester to Hereford.

We are also occasionally supported by the Waterways Recovery Group, and by corporate body volunteer teams wanting to make a difference.

As our project load continues to increase we seek more volunteers to meet a wide range of needs and would love to find a role for you.

Restoration News

Current Restoration Sites

Oxenhall – Enabling work has recently commenced on restoring the section of canal between the already restored House Lock and Ell Brook Aqueduct structures.  This project will include re-construction of a lock chamber destroyed during the building of the Gloucester-Ledbury railway, and the excavation of a much overgrown and infilled section of canal channel

Newent – Plans have also been recently announced for the creation of an inclined plane arrangement to facilitate the passage of boats through the Newent station site

Malswick – A variety of new structures have been created by a well-established team carrying out conditional works of the river bridges and other agreed work on a farm as part of an arrangement to secure land transfer to the Trust at Malswick.   This work was completed in 2021, and in 2022 we moved onto several other bridges over streams, a new swing bridge off the B4215, a new lock and ¾ mile of Canal restoration. This will include considerable areas for conservation in the cuttings and years of work from undergrowth clearance, machine work and two major structures. Above all, this delivers a very high-profile site alongside the main road and directly accessible from Malswick House

Elsewhere – Restored canal channel maintenance continues at Aylestone Park in Hereford,  Yarkhill and Kymin East

Restoration Work in the past

Stretches of the canal at Monkhide, Yarkhill, Moat Farm, Oxenhall, and Over, along with the stone chamber of House Lock and the structure of Ell Brook Aqueduct at Oxenhall have been completely restored by trust volunteers.

In addition, work has been carried out at Burcott Road and Aylestone Park in Hereford,  Kymin East, Dymock, and at Llanthony Lock.

Working with the Waterways Recovery Group, the original canal basin at Over, where the Canal connected with the River Severn, has been reconstructed. This was the largest all-volunteer canal restoration project in the UK in 1999-2000. Since then, Vineyard Hill, a stretch of similar length, has also been brought back into water

The Wharf House at Over Basin, just west of Gloucester was built on the site of the old lock cottage that once stood overlooking the banks of the River Severn.  The shell of the building was constructed for the Trust by Swan Hill Homes. Inside, Trust volunteers completed the entire fit-out, much of it using material recycled from the Hospital buildings that once stood nearby, to provide a restaurant, offices, and a visitor centre.  Our volunteers later added seven luxury bedrooms.

In 2019 the building was let out to a third party providing an ongoing income stream for the Trust, and is now trading as The Lock Keepers and The Moorings.

Click on any of the images below to find out more about restoration projects.

Stretches of the Canal that can be visited by the public:

  • Aylestone Park
  • Kymin East
  • Yarkhill
  • Oxenhall
  • Over and Vineyard Hill,

Completed Projects and Maintained sites

As our work progresses and lengths of the canal corridor have been restored, our volunteers strive to keep the areas well maintained, ensuring the towpaths are clear and the undergrowth under control.

Where appropriate stretches are excavated and a navigable channel and functional towpath created. Some of the sites are not always open to public at this point. This is dependent on the land agreements at the time of acquiring the land.

Heritage Boats

In late 2005 British Waterways – now Canal & River Trust – announced it was to completely upgrade it’s workboat fleet. Many of its boats would be disposed of and replaced by new, purpose-built vessels. Those to be disposed of would be divided into two categories, those with ‘heritage value’ and those without.

The vessels being without ‘heritage value’ would be sold off, while those with would be given to voluntary bodies that could prove that they had the wherewithal to restore these vessels and use them appropriately. As a canal trust with albeit only short stretches of canal H&G CT thought that ‘proper’ boats would be good for the canal and began to take an interest in the ‘heritage boats’ that BW was making available.

The first boat that The H&G CT acquired was Alder in May 2006. Since then further boats have joined the fleet and much work has been done by enthusiastic teams of volunteers both on the engines, the outer structures. Extensive cleaning and preparation were carried out by Trust volunteers before it painting could begin. The boats now look great painted in the H&G house colours!

H&G CT is immensely grateful to British Waterways for their generosity in donating our Heritage Boat fleet for use on the Hereford and Gloucester Canal.

More on our Heritage Boats

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