NEARLY enough sludge and rubbish to fill an Olympic swimming pool has been dredged from a-mile-and-a-half stretch of the Stroudwater Canal.

Bicycles, traffic cones and supermarket trolleys have been some of the items pulled out of the canal between The Ocean at Stonehouse and Ryeford Double Lock by dredging company Land and Water on behalf of Stroud District Council.

A spokesman from the council, Dave Marshall, said: " We were not surprised by the amount of rubbish we have collected."

Mr Marshall said that they were only skimming the surface, because modern boats require less depth to pass through, so they were only dredging the top layer of silt.

The silt, which has lain at the bottom of the canal since it was last dredged in the 1980s, is being loaded onto barges and taken to the field at Horse Trough roundabout where it is being spread for fertilisation purposes.

The dredging started three weeks ago and is expected to be complete by Friday, March 11, allowing boats to sail down the canal for the first time since the 1950s.