About the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal.
As building increased rapidly in London there was an insatiable requirement for bricks so a new brick works was built in Slough and the Arm was used to get these
bricks via Cowley Peachey Junction to Hanwell Lock Flight - Grand Union Canal
Main line and then on into London. The canal was also used to carry sand and gravel until these supplies were exhausted in the early 1940s.
Construction of the Slough Arm started in 1880 and was completed right at the end of 1882 - the Arm then enjoyed continued commerical operation right up to 1960 when British Waterways took it
over. They considered the canal not to be worth saving and of course along came Slough Council who wanted to do what they and so many of our councils do best - shove concrete everywhere and destroy a bit more of our English Heritage. Fortunately The Slough Canal Group was created and they fought a vigorous
campaign along with the help of the Slough Observer Newspaper to keep the canal alive - this campaign was successful and the canal was re-opened in 1975.
It is interesting that the big thing these days in England is to get people out and about for some healthy exercise etc. - canals and their towpaths are ideal for this be it
walking or cycling.
You only have to see how many families and people are out on the canals on a nice Sunday afternoon to see that if the enviornment is safe, clean and accessible then areas get used.
However in the case of canals the amount of money to upkeep them is in effect being reduced with the result that canal banks and towpaths are often not kept in good condition and the canal starts leaking - paths and towpaths get more and more unpassable - therefore the
canals stop being used. The whole situation is quite pathetic- our old canal systems should have more money spent on
them not less.
Anyway - the Slough Arm towpath is fortunately in really good condition for both cyclists and walkers. There are several bridges over the canal and three very interesting aqueducts which are used to cross Fray's River, the River Colne and Colne Brook. There are no locks on the Slough Arm apart from the barely visible sight of the original stop lock at the Grand Union Canal end of the arm at Cowley Peachey Junction. (see the bottom left of the first picture shown below).
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The Slough Canal is quite wide and does seem to have a reasonable depth of water although we have read elsewhere that it is quite silted in places. We walked
along the Slough Canal Arm at the end of February and it was evident that some work has been done especially on the sides where many of the trees have had their overhanging branches lopped etc. Although of course in our winter the canal looked quite bare there are plenty of trees and shrubs and reeds around and one imagines it is a very green area to walk or cycle along/around once Spring arrives.
The Slough Canal Arm ends in Slough next to the B416 Stoke Road and sadly this area in a bit of a dismal state - the canal arm's small basin is scruffy and littered with rubbish and the the basin itself appears quite silted and weedy with grotty stained water. Surrounding the basin there are simply parking slots, a wharf and a builders yard. If you consider for instance how the canal basin at the Market Harborough end of The Market Harborough Canal Arm
looks then maybe the authorities at Slough have missed a
trick or two in appreciating the commercial benefits of a canal on their doorstep. Another example of local authority indifference is where bridge 5 used to cross the Arm - there is still enough of Bridge 5 that it could be re-instated. Perhaps if the council heroes concerned skipped one of their wasteful "factfinding" trips abroad somewhere the money could be used to re-instate this bridge.