The ca­noe trip that saved a canal


Canal Boat - - News -

TWO CANOEISTS pad­dling a lonely course along a near-derelict south­ern Strat­ford Canal in 1957 were enough to save it from the threat of of­fi­cial aban­don­ment – and to mark the 60th an­niver­sary, a flotilla of 60 canoeists recre­ated that his­toric trip.

In the 1950s the south­ern length of the canal had seen no traf­fic for years, had been ne­glected by its own­ers and was fall­ing deeper into dere­lic­tion – but it had never been legally aban­doned. When Strat­ford-upon-Avon Canal So­ci­ety founder mem­bers John Pin­der and Michael Fox pad­dled from Woot­ton Wawen via Ed­stone Aqueduct to Wilm­cote they needed to pay a toll – and when the au­thor­i­ties pro­posed to aban­don the canal on grounds that it was no longer nav­i­gated, their toll ticket pro­vided the nec­es­sary proof that this was not the case. Can­cel­la­tion of the clo­sure plans led to restora­tion pro­pos­als and ul­ti­mately to the canal’s re­open­ing in 1964.

The com­mem­o­ra­tive trip saw the same jour­ney trav­elled by pad­dlers from the Strat­ford-upon-Avon Canal So­ci­ety, the In­land Wa­ter­ways As­so­ci­a­tion, Bri­tish Ca­noe­ing and the Canal & River Trust – in­clud­ing the late Michael Fox’s daugh­ter Geral­dine Dahlke, who had joined part of the 1957 jour­ney as an eight-year-old.

They were watched from the bank by John Pin­der, who said he had “no idea that our orig­i­nal trip would have such a pos­i­tive im­pact”, and that it was “a mar­vel”.

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