A Final Resting Place
By Martin Vincent

MAN and boy Ron Robertson has always been a true canal enthusiast.  And now he has decided that he wants his final resting place to be alongside the waterway that has given him so much pleasure.

Ron is one of a dedicated and growing band of people committed to re-opening the route of the old Wilts and Berks canal.  Recently, with some help, he rebuilt the historic Victorian Beavans bridge across a stretch of restored canal to the south of Swindon near Mill Lane.  And it’s there that Ron, 62, of Moredon Park, Swindon, wants his ashes left.  He’s even left a cavity in the stonework where a casket contain­ing his ashes can be put.

Ron said: “I want to do this because I love canals and this particular spot is a place where I have always been very happy, particularly during my childhood. I never thought I would come back to build the bridge but I did, and now my last wish will be to have my ashes put here. My friends and family all think it is a good idea  although I still intend to be around for a lot longer yet”.

Ron who is a semi-retired bricklayer, can remember how as a five-year-old he played with friends at the spot.  Although there was no water in the canal then, he said it was easy to see where it used to flow even though much of it had been filled in with building rubble from a new factory site.

“I used to meet the farmer’s son down here and also later on work on the farm during the school holidays. In fact, I used to spend all my spare time here and it has always been a special spot to me and holds a lot of good memories.”

Ron rebuilt the bridge with the help of his son Bill and a work-mate, and they spent something like eight months over a two year period carrying out the work.

“Originally there was a stone bridge but that was replaced by a ramshackle wooden bridge which was made from girders and sleepers over what looked like a big ditch,” Ron said.

Following the formation of the Wilts and Berks canal group, the decision was made to rebuild the stone bridge and Ron was asked to do the work.

“Although I was a bricklayer and not a stone mason I said I would have a go. All we had to work on was an old photograph of what it used to look like and traces of the old footings.”

Like the other members of the canal group, Ron is confident that in the not too distant future there will once again be a waterway link between the Kennet and Avon canal at Semington and the old Thames and Severn canal at Cricklade.

“I just hope I will be alive still to see it,” he said.


From the Swindon Evening Advertiser
Thursday, February 15th 2001


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