Location – Just outside the Buckingham ring road lies a section of canal known as Bourton Meadow (see map below). This is readily accessible via the former towpath which is now part of the Ouse Valley Way.
History – This section became heavily silted in the late 19th Century due both to leakage and its use as Buckingham’s sewage outlet. This was, therefore, one of the first sections of the canal to run dry and saw its last boat around 1900.
BCS activity – This 450m section has now been restored and is fully in water. With the landowner’s permission and co-operation the Society has been given access to this length. Volunteers have cleared undergrowth and brush so that the line is fully visible and the tow-path fully functional. In 2004 a spill-weir, which will permit excess water to run off down to the adjacent River Great Ouse, was rebuilt. The site has been regularly maintained since then and an interpretation board was sited at the Buckingham end in 2008.
Current status – Bourton Meadow has been rewatered! It had always been identified as a priority for re-watering and in preparation for that an ecological study was undertaken in 2011 funded by a grant from Luton and Bedfordshire Community Foundation. This was an essential precursor to a planning application for re-lining, re-watering and environmental enhancement of the site. The site was rewatered in August 2013 and continues to be maintained in line with the ecological recommendations of the report. A planning application was approved in April 2012 enabling the work which involved re-profiling the canal to a navigable depth, lining it with a waterproof material, reinforcing the water margins with “soft” edging of coir rolls to encourage aquatic habitats and improving the hedges on either side of the canal. Grants were awarded from WREN and AVCC enabling the work to be undertaken.
In October 2016 we created a river inlet chamber to enable top up water to be pumped into the canal all year round. The pump was installed in December 2016 and commissioned in January 2017. The solar powered borehole pump gives additional oxygenation as well as a small return flow to the river skimming leaves and other surface floating debris from the canal to the spill way.
Details of the WREN grant project write up can be found by clicking this link
Next steps – We are always looking for further idea to add community value to this project site which is continuing to mature and attracting a lot of attention.
By completing this project, it acts as an exemplar of what a restored canal looks like and of what the Society and its volunteers have and can achieve.
If you would like to get involved please click here.
Work Party Location – Park in the lay-by next to The Bourton Meadow Academy, Burleigh Piece, Buckingham, MK18 7HX. Cross the Buckingham ring road, turn left onto the footpath, follow through to the kissing gate, go through it and turn left and keep walking until you see the canal bed.
Here is a location plan for the site