A temporary dam has now been put in place to stop a Swindon canal from emptying after a sinkhole was discovered. 

The potentially disastrous hole was spotted by members of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust (WBCT) who are responsible for maintaining the stretch of canal in Wichelstowe at a point where it crosses the River Ray.

Swindon Borough Council was then alerted and swift action was taken to avoid disaster.

Officers from the council's Highways Assets team are now investigating and repairing the sinkhole, which appeared on a bank above a culvert carrying the river below the canal. 

But as a precaution, a structure made out of plastic sheeting and scaffolding has been placed into the canal to prevent it from potentially emptying if there is further deterioration. 

Councillor Chris Watts, cabinet member for the environment and transport, said: “I’d like to thank the canal trust for getting in touch with us as soon as they spotted this issue with the canal bank above the aqueduct.

“Since then, the council and the trust have been working closely together to coordinate work with the specialist contractors.

“It’s important we do the necessary work as quickly as possible to prevent any further deterioration to the canal bank and aqueduct.

“If you’re in the area over the next few weeks please be careful as we make sure the canal bank area is safely repaired.”

Speaking further to the BBC, Mr Watts said: "Something like this, you have to act quickly. We have the river that runs below the canal, the River Ray, which goes through the middle of Swindon.

"This canal is very much loved by the people of Swindon. It's actually one of the key leisure assets that we have in the town."

The canal trust is a charitable organisation attempting to restore the area's canal network and has only short stretches left in its project to reinstate the canal in sections.

Peggy-Sue Ford, branch secretary, told the BBC, they want to get the Swindon section of the canal approved to go back into the town centre, to Wharf Green, where it used to flow.

The canal would have previously run between Semington, near Melksham, all the way to Abingdon, and the main aim of the trust is to reinstate it in full.

WBCT is a registered charitable organisation working to restore, conserve and improve the route of the Wilts & Berks canal.