January 2015 Work Parties

Created on 18/02/2015

Many IWA Branches got 2015 off to a great start with work parties attracting volunteers who were keen to get outside and shake off the post-Christmas blues. Historic features have been uncovered, volunteers have undertaken training and links with local communities are developing well. Read on to see what IWA volunteers have been up to.

First IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch Work Party of the Year

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch had its first work party of 2015 at Lime Kiln Bridge on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal on 14th January. The volunteers carried out a litter pick through the town as far as Caldwall lock and back, collecting about eight bags of rubbish. After warnings of snow, cold and more to come, it was a relief to find the weather bright and sunny, but cold enough to be happy for a lunchtime finish!

First Cheshire Locks Work Party for New Leader

Photo: Lock 62 in top condition with clean stone-work and exposed cobbles and setts (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)Photo: Lock 62 in top condition with clean stone-work and exposed cobbles and setts (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch’s Cheshire Locks work parties are now led by Andy Hellyar-Brook, who started this year’s work on the lock flight on January 15th. Six enthusiastic volunteers turned out for the work party at Malkin’s Bank, near Sandbach on the Trent & Mersey Canal despite less than favourable weather forecasts. It is well known amongst the volunteers that winter work parties are always a bit of a lottery when it comes to the weather but on this occasion this worked in the group’s favour with the weather turning out better than had been predicted.

Volunteers managed to clear cobble setts, lock landings and edging along the stone-work around Lock 62 and below Lock 61 before they cleared away litter that had been revealed after the hedgerow had lost its leaves. At the foot of Lock 61 volunteers uncovered an unusual cobbled area with large, gently converging stone paving with no clear function. The stone is in excellent condition with very little apparent wear.

Malkin’s Bank flight is looking really tidy and well cared for thanks to all the hard work of volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Trent & Mersey Canal Society and the on-going support of CRT Manchester & Pennine. The overall impact of the work is plain to see and the work party volunteers are looking to bring the whole of the Cheshire Flight up to this standard progressively over the next three years, a time scale that should insure they can keep up the standard set to date.

IWA West Country Branch Volunteers Complete Training

Photo (top): Volunteers build a dead hedge from cleared vegetation at IWA West Country Branch work party (photo by Mike Slade)

IWA West Country Branch had a great start to the year on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. On 24th January, twelve volunteers with the Branch turned out for a training and vegetation clearance session at Bathpool.

The volunteers were divided into two groups. One cleared excess vegetation growth and used this to make a dead hedge for the benefit of the local wildlife. Whilst the second group of six volunteers were trained by Canal & River Trust staff and successfully gained accreditation in the safe use of various power tools.

Over fifty volunteer hours were given by the group and two new volunteers were welcomed to the team. All in all the Branch was pleased with a very successful day!

IWA Chester Branch Make an Impression With the Local Community

Volunteers at IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch January work partyPhoto: Volunteers at IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch’s work party (photo by Mike Carter)

Volunteers with IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch completed a good day’s work on 31st January and managed to clear all the saplings from the offside bank of the Shropshire Union Canal at Cow Lane (Union Terrace). The Branch took on the task having received a request from local residents and businesses who had noticed the area was attracting lots of litter. It is great to see such interest from the local community.

Historic Ramp Discovered on Macclesfield Canal Work Party

Photo: Volunteers at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's work party (photo by Bob Luscombe)Photo: Volunteers at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's work party at Congleton (photo by Bob Luscombe)

On a cold January day, eight volunteers turned out to support the first Congleton Work Party of 2015 with IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch. The objective of the day was to clear litter that had accumulated over a number of years from a 1.5 mile stretch of the Macclesfield Canal between Congleton Wharf and the Brookhouse Lane Bridge (no. 72). Recent hedge to edge cutting had exposed a considerable amount of litter and the volunteers collected over fifteen bags of rubbish as well as a significant amount of cardboard and polystyrene packing together with a number of furniture items that had been fly tipped over a period of many months. At the end of the day, the entire 1.5 mile length of towpath and adjoining embankment had been cleared.

A few of the volunteers also uncovered an historic ramp that used to run from the towpath up to a canal keepers cottage. The existence of this ramp was originally identified by one of the regular volunteers from historical maps from the beginning of the last century. Having identified and cleared a small section of the ramp, volunteers plan to try and restore the ramp back to its former status over the coming months, which would open up a new access point to the canal towpath for all to enjoy.


In addition to these work parties, in January IWA Northampton Branch worked on the Northampton Arm, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Uttoxeter Canal with Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and IWA Manchester Branch continued its monthly work parties.

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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