December 2014 Work Parties
December was a very quiet month, as volunteers wound down ready for a well-deserved break over Christmas. The regular work parties run by IWA Manchester, Northampton, Chester & Merseyside and West Country Branches went ahead, but many combined their last event of the year with a festive celebration. This included IWA Manchester Branch's work party on 20th December, where an early finish was agreed in order to enjoy seasonal refreshments.
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch’s last Caldon Canal work party of the year made an interesting discovery. Volunteers from the Branch and Uttoxeter Canals Trust met at Flint Mill Lock on the Caldon Canal on Thursday 11th December ready to unearth some local history.
Photo: Work party at Flint Mill Lock, Consall, before work began
Although known by most people as Flint Mill Lock, this Lock is shown on old maps as Consall New Lock. This is because, abandoned and buried alongside it is Consall Old Lock. The task for the day was to remove vegetation around the overgrown site in order to find the old Lock, which was barely visible at the start of the day.
By the end of the day the Old Lock was revealed and there is a proposal for an interpretation board to be installed to tell passers by about the history of the Lock and the immediate area. The Lock was replaced prior to 1900 as the original lock chamber was suffering from subsidence due to its proximity to a nearby hillside, reducing the width of the chamber for the passing working boat traffic.
Photo: Work party at Flint Mill Lock, Consall, volunteers uncover the old lock
Also taking part on the day were Glyn Parkes and his trainees from the Churnet Valley social action and personal development programme led by vInspired and delivered by the Waterways Action Squad, CRT’s youth engagement programme. The participants are working towards a level 2 qualification in Work Based Environmental Conservation that is accredited by City & Guilds. The young people all enjoyed getting stuck in with the task in hand, and were particularly enthusiastic when it came to removing some of the many tree stumps in the lock chamber.
After a quiet month, IWA volunteers are now in full swing planning work parties for 2015. Make sure you visit IWA’s calendar to see what is happening near you, or contact your local Branch to find out how you could get involved. If you are looking for a volunteering opportunity with a difference, or maybe a holiday that is not a conventional week on a beach, keep an eye out for IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group’s (WRG) Canal Camps Brochure, due out in February. This lists all the Canal Camps, week-long working holidays spent restoring waterways, WRG has planned for 2015!