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The opening of Jubilee Junction.

A new junction near Abingdon for the Wilts & Berks canal

The Wilts & Berks canal originally joined the Thames at Abingdon, but its line has since been infilled and built on. Recently the opportunity arose to build a new junction, about a mile south of Abingdon. The first 150 yards of the new line could be built quite easily to terminate in an old gravel pit that could serve as a winding hole.

The IWA were seeking an appropriate project to celebrate their Diamond Jubilee, and chose to fund the new junction for this purpose - naming it Jubilee Junction in recognition. The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust completed the task and arranged for the opening of the junction to take place immediately after the 2006 National Waterways Festival on 30th August.

Reaching the junction that morning we moored somewhat creatively by throwing a line to a passing photographer on the bank, who passed it around a convenient tree and threw the end back to us. Others were even more creative in their mooring techniques, including the line of boats who tied to the "Danger" sign at the head of the weir stream.

The whole affair was total chaos and great fun in the strong cross-wind, especially with a Salters steamer holding station in the middle of it all (and getting very close to Chris Coburn on 'Progress'). I must again offer my apologies to the rowing boat that our prop-wash sent under the trees.

The dignitaries arrived on schedule, the opening ceremony took place, and then it was a free-for-all with narrowboats, cruisers, rowing boats, punts, and dinghies all making for the entrance together (but luckily not the Salters steamer). We made it down the new arm as part of the ceremonial flotilla, winded successfully and found our way out again; we’ve got the certificate to prove it too!

 

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The junction in the morning, with the entrance covered by orange netting
boats starting to arrive for the ceremony
Some creative mooring
A variety of different types of boats had gathered

 

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Including the  Salters steamer 'Wargrave'...
... who winded and held station amongst the other boats
The first boat full of dignitaries arrives ...
... followed smart by the EA launch 'Windrush' carrying more dignitaries

 

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The first boat enters the junction.
... while 'Wargrave' gets very close to 'Progress' in the crosswind
Everybody tries to get to the junction at once
Soon it is our turn

 

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We enter the junction*
Collecting our certificate*
Collecting our certificate
By now there is a fascinating collection of craft in the new canal

 

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Two-way traffic on the canal*
Turning into the winding point*
Winding at the end of the 150-yard canal*
Winding at the end of the 150-yard canal

 

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Winding successfully completed*
Returning to the junction*
Returning to the junction
Returning to the junction*

 

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As we leave there is still a queue of boats waiting to enter
The original junction at Abingdon appears to be "To Let" now
 

 

Navigation Certificate

 

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Note: Photographs captioned with an asterisk (*) are © Peter and Pauline Curtis

All pictures on this site are © Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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