Somerset Waterways News

On Wednesday 26 November the Somerset Waterways Development Trust won the £48,000 funding for the River Tone Community Trip Boat.  Trust members would like to thank the people of Somerset and beyond, the BIG Lottery, Somerset County Council, Project Taunton and ITV West region for supporting this project.
We are always on the lookout for grant funding for your projects, and have put in a number of bids to improve or replace the boats we have available. Our latest bid to the big lottery People’s Millions Competition has been successful and we hope, with your support we can achieve more in the future.

The River Tone Community Trip Boat was one of two projects in the ITV West region that appeared on the 6.00pm ITN Local News programme on 25 November 2008. Our project received the most votes and we have been awarded £48,000.


The Trust has negotiated with British Waterways to become an agent for issuing day licences on the canals and to have a stock of British Waterways keys which are used exclusively on the waterways in the United Kingdom where the navigation authority is British Waterways and something you will need  if you want to go through the various bridges and locks on the canals.

So if any of you are thinking of getting a boat or already have one, or have a friend with one and would like to have a day or two cruising on the lovely Bridgwater and Taunton Canal this year but do not know what you should do, please contact any of your directors who will give you all the information you need or contact Janet Coles the Trust membership secretary who has offered to be responsible for the keys and the issuing of the day licences.

If you need any more information regarding keys and licences please contact Janet on: [email protected] or call 01823 442654.  Mob. 07787 337669 or 07879 621081 or Keith on: [email protected] or call 01460 241302. Mob. 07729 000534.


  1. The Project Taunton development is moving ahead and parts of the ‘Tone Through Taunton’ public realm improvements will be delivered through planning gain. This will include opportunities to improve access to the River and may involve some work on the Canal.
  2. The Langport town centre improvement is also moving ahead and some of the ‘Langport Vision’ work will be delivered, again including improved access to the river.
  3. The Trust plans to offer advice on the design and use of moorings and access to the river, to maximise the benefit of the investment in new facilities.
  4. The Trust also proposes to pursue grant aid to purchase two trip boats, to provide leisure trips between the weirs in Taunton and from Langport up to Muchelney. These boats will use the new facilities provided by the developments above.
  5. Our consultations with environmental interests highlighted concerns that increasing activity on the river will create environmental damage unless the activity is properly regulated. An image of jet skis in Taunton comes to mind, though other lower key activity could cause problems in sensitive areas.
  6. The Trust proposes to start discussions with British Waterways, the Environment Agency, the local authorities and other interested parties about the options to regulate and manage use of the waterways. The Atkins feasibility study sets out some options that might be appropriate for the Waterlinks proposal but does not make a recommendation.
  7. In 2002 the Wye Navigation Order granted the Environment Agency powers to manage navigation on the River Wye. This followed years of disputes about the navigation rights and conflicting leisure activities. The formation of a Wye Navigation Advisory Committee and the creation of a Wye Navigation Plan including bye-laws were key requirements of the Order. Similar arrangements might be suitable for the Rivers Tone and Parrett.
  8. The environmental concerns about the Waterlinks navigation proposals are not fully resolved, though a great deal of work was done on environmental impact assessments, and environmental benefits that could be gained through sensitive design. Some diametrically opposed views were expressed by different representatives of some organisations and this was particularly unhelpful.

List of projects

The Trust is involved in many different schemes. At the first public meeting in April 2005 the public were invited to put forward ideas for projects. The list is always being added to and some of the projects are now reaching their development stage.

    • Slipway at Maunsel Lock, North Newton
    • Re-opening of the ‘Ron Oakley Lock’ at Bridgwater Docks to the River Parrett
    • Fully operational Bascule Bridge at Bridgwater Docks
    • Re-opening navigation on the River Parrett; Bridgwater to Langport
    • Restoration of Black Bridge at Langport
    • The return of the ‘Irene’ to Somerset
    • Restoration of the Westport Canal
    • Navigation of boats as far as Yeovil
    • Open restricted navigation on the Levels
    • Restoration of the Nynehead Lift and Aqueduct Nynehead Park
    • Construct navigation coast to coast using the Grand Western Canal
    • Linking Bathpool (Bridgwater & Taunton Canal) to the River Tone
    • Opening navigation on the River Tone
    • French Weir Lock – Park & Glide to Silk Mills
    • Interpretation of the remains of the Chard Canal, Creech St Michael
    • Progress through partnerships
    • Linking footpaths and cycleways – Circular trails
    • Enabling the promotion of cycling holidays in Somerset
    • Providing riverside car parks
    • Public Transport links to the rivers and canal
    • Promoting Somerset as a tourism destination
    • Improve camping access in Somerset
    • Create Youth Hostels
    • Promoting activities on the waterways
    • Slipway at Langport – Achieved May 2006
    • Registering the ancient monuments on the Chard Canal

Contact us with your comments and views – [email protected]

Become an Executive Member
What does this entail?

Become more involved in the work of the Trust by becoming an executive member. We need people to help with certain projects to allow us to fulfil our commitment to promoting, conserving and most importantly allowing people to enjoy the waterways of Somerset.

If you wish to find out more about helping the Trust please contact Dave Durdan on 01823 442946.

Can you spare some time?

Below is a list of where we need help over the coming months.

Co-ordinate trip boat destination, collection, retrieval, man power and crew

Be responsible for the maintenance and safety of the trip boats

Co-ordinate sales for SWDT tent. ie; plants, books, confectionary, cakes etc.

Co-ordinate members to assist at different functions, e.g. River Festival, Fun Days, Awareness Days etc etc.

Assist the event director in arranging entertainment as and when required, e.g. functions, bands, groups etc.

Co-ordinate raffle prize collection

Assist in the assembly, dismantling and storing of SWDT gazebo and associated equipment.

Assist in the maintenance of the Charlton land and things associated.

Co-ordinate the maintenance of the land at the Chard Arm.

Co-ordinate feedback from the wardens, anglers, ramblers, boaters and cyclists to the board of directors
Somerset’s bid to win £50million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund has been unsuccessful, as from Tuesday 23 October Waterlinks was informed that it has failed to reach the final stage of ‘The People’s £50million Contest’.Waterlinks is a project that has been born out of a strong partnership. It results from the combined work of five councils and a supporting Trust from Somerset, and as such, many of the projects are still expected to go ahead although the timeframe will need adjusting.

Chair of Waterlinks, Anne Fraser, said: “Of course we are disappointed that we didn’t make it through to the final TV vote, but with all the work that has gone into the bid and the considerably higher profile that Waterlinks and the county now has, I am confident that we will be able to find sufficient funding, and backing, to ensure that many of the projects do come to fruition.”

The aim of Waterlinks is to unlock the potential of the region’s wetlands and water heritage – bringing economic regeneration, inward investment and sustainable tourism to the county. It combines more than 20 schemes which focus around four hubs – Taunton, Bridgwater, Glastonbury and Langport –regenerating waterways and revitalising riverfronts, whilst enhancing wildlife habitats and developing iconic landmarks.

Anne Fraser continued: “The Waterlinks project has already brought together communities and united the county, and we don’t want to loose this momentum. Waterlinks can still become a reality for some areas within Somerset – although it may now take a little longer. However we are not defeated.

If you need further information please contact Richard Dommett on 01873 832153
or Email: [email protected]

We are supported by our patrons who are:

Neil Parish MEP
Lt Colonel Charles Stickland RM
Graham Watson MEP

Dr Nick Chapman

Mrs Constance Milburn

The Trust produces three newsletters per year. January, May and September. The newsletter is available to members only. We are always looking for articles for the newsletter. Maybe you would like to advertise in the newsletter or tell us about an event.

Deadline for submissions and items for the next newsletter are always on the last day of the month preceding publication.

Please send information to: [email protected]

or mail to: Homelea, Bow Street, Langport, TA10 9PQ

or telephone 01458 251694 for more details

Copyright© Somerset Waterways Development Trust 2007 . All rights reserved.