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A bird’s-eye view of The Ocean and new rail bridge

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A section of the Stroudwater Canal that has been blocked for more than 50 years is set to flow again.

The original rail bridge at The Ocean, a stretch of water near St Cyr’s Church, Stonehouse was removed in 1968 when British Rail deemed it too expensive to repair following damage to its abutments. It was replaced with an embankment which blocked the canal, with just a small culvert for the canal water and a pedestrian tunnel.

The original Ocean Rail Bridge was removed in 1968. Picture courtesy of www.stroudwaterhistory.org.uk/

A new rail bridge is set to replace the embankment later this year and will enable boats to navigate as far as Saul Junction.

National Lottery funding was announced last year which will enable restoration of the canal between Stonehouse and Saul Junction, linking it to the national waterway network, making Stonehouse and Stroud canal towns once again.

Sections of the new bridge being cast on site. Picture courtesy of Ken Bailey.

A Stroud District Council spokesperson explained: “Network Rail (who appointed contractor Alun Griffiths Construction) will be replacing the bridge on behalf of the Cotswold Canals Connected project – originally it was planned for spring this year but had to be postponed until later in the year (possibly Christmas/New Year).

The rail embankment features a small culvert for the canal water and a pedestrian tunnel. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“The existing embankment will be removed then the new concrete box sections that will house the new canal channel and towpath will be installed.

Sections of the new rail bridge were cast on site and will be installed later this year. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“The new bridge concrete sections have been cast on site – that’s what you can see. They’ll be lifted into position by crane.”

The current rail embankment at The Ocean, with St Cyr’s Church in the distance. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

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