The Bude Canal Trust Ltd is a legally constituted charity. It was set up in 1996 specifically to take over ownership of the 5-mile length of the Aqueduct branch of the Bude Canal.
The Aqueduct branch, as its name suggests, was originally built to supply water to the Bude Canal system. A reservoir was built on the River Tamar, now known as Lower Tamar Lake, and the Aqueduct branch carried water from the reservoir to the canal network, including its branches to Holsworthy and Launceston.
Soon, however, the Aqueduct branch became used by the same tub boats as were used on the rest of the system to ferry sand and other goods through this remote rural area. A wharf, together with a canal store and maintenance building, was built at Virworthy, 0.3 mile/0.5km from Lower Tamar Lake. The branch also boasts one of the Canal’s inclined planes, at Vealand.
After closure of the Canal in 1901 the Aqueduct branch was acquired by the local water company to supply water to Bude from Lower Tamar Lake, which had become used as a reservoir for domestic water supplies. The water company’s successors, South West Water, no longer needed it to supply water by the late 20th century and sold it to North Cornwall District Council in the 1980s. When the Council then wished to dispose of the Aqueduct branch in 1996 the Trust was formed to acquire this length in order to retain its historical integrity.
In 2008-9 four new Trustees took over responsibility for the Bude Canal Trust, aided by a new Trust Administrator. Under this group the Trust is now in the process of seeking funding through grants to undertake improvement works on the Aqueduct branch. Maintenance of the path is done by members and volunteers, and often helped by adjoining landowners.