April 2015 Work Parties

Created on 19/05/2015

Volunteers were as busy as ever in April, groups uncovered historic waterway features, embarked on 10 mile Canal Cleanups, took part in the annual BCN Cleanup, celebrated contributing over 1000 volunteer hours in the past year and of course enjoyed tea and biscuits! Read on to see what they all got up to.

Work Parties on the Uttoxeter Canal Prove Popular

Volunteers at Uttoxeter Canal work party (photo by Evie Frost)Photo: Volunteers at Uttoxeter Canal work party (photo by Evie Frost)

The April IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust work party on the Uttoxeter Canal, continued work in the Crumpwood area. One group dealt with a large clump of hawthorn, which was hiding the wall of the weir-keeper’s cottage, while another group went to Bridge 70 to remove a tree beside the recently restored towpath. Work to reveal buried parts of the weir also continued. An investigation of the flood control sluice on one side of the weir indicated that the paddle might well still be in place, buried under years of accumulated silt. Full investigation of this will take place after a couple of large trees have been removed as part of the WRG Reunion Weekend in November.

The group’s work on the derelict Canal continues to generate much interest and attract new volunteers with three newcomers this month. At the moment work parties take place on the second Thursday of the month but there are plans to start a weekend group for those who cannot make Thursdays. If you are interested in joining this new group, please contact Steve Wood at steve.wood@waterways.org.uk.

Sunshine Welcomed as Branch Begins Painting at Red Bull

April was a turning point for volunteers at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's work party at the Cheshire Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal. On 16th April, after a fair few wet days earlier in the year, the rain finally stayed away and the sun came out long enough for the volunteers to paint. Volunteers from the regular team were joined by two hard working teenagers (working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award) and Naomi from CRT, all of whom put in a great day’s work and almost completed the painting at Lock 44 at Red Bull. The Lock now looks so much better than it has done in a long while.

Sun Shines on Spring Canal Cleanup Through Milton Keynes

Photo: Volunteers gather at IWA Milton Keynes Spring Cleanup, Fenny Stratford LockPhoto: Volunteers gather at IWA Milton Keynes Spring Cleanup, Fenny Stratford Lock

Over 10 miles of the Grand Union Canal through Milton Keynes, from Fenny Stratford Lock to Galleon Bridge at Wolverton, benefitted from a spring-clean over IWA Milton Keynes two-day Canal Cleanup on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th April. Forty-three volunteers joined the Branch's Canal Cleanup and picked litter from towpaths, wrestled heavy materials from hedges, and used grappling hooks from boats, to remove several tons of rubbish from the Canal and its surroundings.

The collected rubbish included an encouragingly smaller haul of bicycles and shopping trolleys than in previous years. There was, however, an increase in waste materials from boat fittings. More challenging finds included motorbikes, double mattresses and assorted furniture. Scores of black sacks were filled with discarded food wrappings and drink containers.

The Canal Cleanup is organised twice yearly by the IWA Milton Keynes Branch, generously sponsored by the Wyvern Shipping Company and supported by the Canal & River Trust (CRT). Regular volunteers from IWA were pleased to be joined by members of Milton Keynes Sub-Aqua Club, the local scuba diving club and volunteers from Buckingham Canal Society, Parks Trust and the local area. CRT staff also contributed their time and effort, and brought equipment, including a dredger to help with heavier loads. CRT Trustee, John Dodwell, and Chief Executive, Richard Parry, came to see the operation and joined in with the work.

IWA Milton Keynes Branch has been carrying out these Canal Cleanups for over twenty years, and they help to keep the canal and towpath in a condition that everyone can enjoy. The next one will be planned to pass along the same route in October 2015, so keep an eye out for details later in the year.

IWA West Country Branch Work Parties Reach 1000 Volunteer Hours

On Saturday 18th April 2015, IWA West Country Branch had two volunteer groups working on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. The first group collected rubbish from Bridgwater Docks and the Newtown Lock area whilst the second litter picked along the Canal towpath from Bathpool towards Creech St Michael.  In addition, the groups painted 8 metres of the fencing and posts around the Dockside car park, removed some of the weeds around the fence posts and access covers and carried out a visual inspection of this part of the of the Canal, recording structures and identifying possible future work party needs and sites.

This latest work party has once again added to the Branch’s volunteer hours spent on the Canal. In the twelve months up to 30th April 2015, volunteers at IWA West Country Branch work parties on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal have given 1014 hours. Four of the volunteer team  have completed over 100 hours each, six have put in eighty hours training for Boat Crew and Helmsman requirements and a further four volunteers have also engaged in getting their accreditation for the safe use of motorised power tools.

100 Volunteers Clear 40 Tonnes of Rubbish from the Birmingham Canal Navigations

Photo (top): Volunteers help cleanup the canals of Birmingham (photo by Chris Morgan)

Over 100 volunteers from WRG, IWA, Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, Dudley Canal Trust, Coombeswood Canal Trust and Canal & River Trust (CRT), including their Chief Executive Richard Parry, joined together to carry out a massive canal cleanup on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) on 18th and 19th April.

Volunteers spent the weekend clearing over 40 tonnes of rubbish along the BCN Old Main Line at Smethwick Junction and surrounding locks. Lots of interesting ‘treasures’ were pulled out of the canal including motorbikes, a freezer, a Hindu deity statue, a shotgun, several parts of a car … and of course a few shopping trolleys! It is hoped this annual effort on the BCN will help keep the less well used parts of the BCN & Black Country Network from getting choked up with rubbish and becoming impassable for boats.

The event was also supported by volunteers from the Friends of the Tipton Cut, IKON Gallery Slow Boat project, British Telecom and Black Country Adventures Boat Project.

Take a look at photos from the event on Flickr.

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch Volunteers Take a Visit to Liverpool

Photo: IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work party teamPhoto: IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work party team

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work volunteers enjoyed a change of location in April and headed over to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Eldonian Village. The group cleared lots of litter from in and around the Canal between Eldonian Village Hall and Stanley Locks, including the removal of a large wheelie skip from the canal behind Robert Lynch House, and weeded and tidied up the towpath.

Beverley Beck Litter Pick

Photo: IWA litter pick volunteers at the Beverley Beck submarinePhoto: IWA litter pick volunteers at the Beverley Beck submarine

IWA East Yorkshire Branch volunteers assembled by Beverley Beck on Sunday 26th April, to assist members of the Beverley Beck Boating Association (BBBA) in what has now become a traditional annual cleanup along the beck.

The Branch took its normal south side and worked from the town end down to the lock at the junction with the River Hull. BBBA took the north side and between the two groups of volunteers  the whole length of the Beck was covered. A gloomy weather forecast pleasingly turned out to be inaccurate and we all enjoyed warm sunny conditions throughout.

Upon finishing at the lock, the bags of rubbish were disposed of and all volunteers were treated to tea and biscuits in the BBBA club house.

Reinstatement of Historic Ramp Well Underway in Congleton

A bright, sunny and warm April day greeted volunteers meeting on the Macclesfield Canal at Congleton for the regular monthly IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch work party. Volunteers continued work to uncover and restore the old ramp leading to the former canal lengthman’s cottage. In addition volunteers also undertook the usual litter pick, although it was encouraging to note that the amount of litter now collected every month seems to have reduced (hopefully evidence that the regular litter picks are prompting people to take their litter home with them).

A length of the ramp has now been uncovered and volunteers have replaced missing stones from the walls that formed the sides of the ramp, as well as laying a base layer of hard core. This is preparation for the installation of wooden edging and fine gravel in the coming months.

The local Town Council has been supportive and plans to provide low maintenance plants to further enhance the banking along this area of towpath between Congleton Station and the Dane Aqueduct. CRT contractors have also relayed an improved towpath surface between the Railway Station and Bridge 76 as part of Congleton Town’s cycle route, making the visitor moorings in that area a much nicer place to stop.

Already there are many positive comments being received from towpath users and local residents with regard to the improvements in the area  and IWA, CRT, Congleton Town Council and local residents working together over the coming months aim to build on this for the benefit of all.


In addition to these work parties, in April, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA Northampton Branch was out in force again on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch worked on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, and IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Interested in getting involved as a volunteer with IWA? Take a look at IWA’s information on volunteering or get in touch with Stefanie Preston.

Tags: IWA Work Parties

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