Tag: barge

Barging expensively into town

At last we have a price tag for Mr Bluh’s wish to run a canal along Westcott Place and Faringdon Road into Swindon town centre. It’s not a cheap price tag. £50M according to Swindon Borough Council’s consultants, Halcrow. I wouldn’t disagree with Mr Bluh’s opinion that a waterway within the town centre would be a great improvement to the attractiveness of the town. But at that price, and bearing in mind that the chosen route, unlike the original route of the canal, will run near to the town centre rather than right through the heart of the town centre, some serious thought is required. Swindon’s main attraction for tourists is well known, even amongst locals, to be no more than that there are many very interesting places nearby (the Cotswolds, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Avebury, Marlborough, the Kennet and Avon Canal…). Of itself, another canal will not change that.

To be worth the price and inconvenience, we need a benefit better than those identified so far.

A fine cream tea

Having spent much of yesterday walking along the Kennet & Avon Canal, may I commend The Mad Hatter Tearooms at Avoncliff for a most delicious cream tea. All the better for a mistake in their taking my order which lead to it being free. Quite how one can misinterpret ‘A ham, cheese and pineapple hot baguette please.’ (also delicious) for ‘Two cream teas and a ham, cheese and pineapple hot baguette please.’ I am still pondering. The Cross Guns pub just across the way may be better known and have a better range of beers, but the quality of its food and service — of the ‘lets fleece the tourists for all we can get’ type with hurriedly prepared food on paper plates and plastic cutlery — are distinctly second rate. By comparison, at The Mad Hatter china crockery and steel cutlery are the norm and, even on a busy sunny bank holiday weekend, time was taken (tho’ not excessively) over the preparation of the food. The Black Rat Cider was quite good too.

Barging into town

There has been a lot of talk from the leader of Swindon council about re-opening the Wilts & Berks Canal through Swindon. What seems strange is the choice of route. Rather than going along the old route (Canal Walk) straight into the town centre (most of which is intact as pedestrian routes), the proposal is to run the canal from its current end, along roads parallel to Canal Walk (Westcott Place, Faringdon Road and Fleet Street) and then rejoin the route of the North Wilts Canal. This route may well be more picturesque (passing the Park and the Railway Village), but is much more disruptive. It’s also lower than the line of the old canal, so new locks will, presumably, need to be built. Very pretty. The leader of the canal trust says nobody he has spoken to is against the idea, ignoring the comments of some of his local members. Selective hearing, methinks.