January 2016 Work Parties

Created on 09/02/2016

Photo: IWA Staffs & South Cheshire - Cheshire Locks Work Party

The New Year is now well underway and the work has continued unabated across the branches.  From rescuing injured joggers to clearing fallen trees, litter picking and vegetation clearance, our volunteers have been busy improving the waterways for all.

Read on to find out what our branches have been up to on the waterways.

IWA Peterborough Branch - Begin Work on Forty Foot Drain

IWA Peterborough Branch started the New Year with two firsts – the Branch's first ever work party and IWA's first work party of the year.

The work party was arranged after forming a unique agreement between the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) and the branch. Further work parties are planned every two weeks until around mid April, with a break over the spring/summer to avoid upsetting the bird nesting season and then resuming again in the autumn.

On 6th January a group of stalwart volunteers set about clearing the dense brush and tree growth along the banks of the Forty Foot river from near Chatteris leading up to the Horseways Lock. This section of the Forty Foot is currently underused for navigation and has been neglected since the Environment Agency, concerned about flood risk, suddenly closed the channel from Horseways Lock to Welches Dam with a cofferdam in 2006.

For the first 180 metres from the road bridge the MLC is unable to gain access with their machinery and so the IWA volunteers will 'hand drag line' the river bed to clear any obstructions.

Once this first stage of clearance by volunteers is accomplished the IWA hopes and anticipates a favourable response from the Environment Agency to eventually allow the main thrust of the 'Project Hereward - Welches Dam to Horseways' campaign to begin in earnest. This would again reinstate a through navigation to the Old Bedford river via the Forty Foot opening a second much needed link through the Middle Levels.
(Thanks to Mike Daines for this report)
IWA Peterborough Jan 2016
Photo: Credit Mike Daines - IWA Peterborough's first work party volunteers

IWA Ipswich Branch - supporting River Gipping Trust

After taking a break over Christmas and New Year, the River Gipping Trust with support from IWA Ipswich Branch were back out at their regular Wednesday work parties with a couple of new recruits. They had a very healthy 12 volunteers at the work party on Wednesday 13th January and eight at the previous work party.

As everywhere else the wet weather slowed down the work possible and the main project, the creation of the new bywash at Pipps Ford, had to be put on hold as the ground was too spongy to work on. Instead volunteers set to work clearing fallen trees and tackling the overgrown towpath.

They were also faced with an unusual task of rescuing an injured runner who had fallen over on the towpath. Volunteers carried the jogger to the Trust's hut and then utilised a wheelbarrow to help her to her husband's car where she was taken to hospital with a broken ankle. Their heroic efforts even made it into the local newspaper!

IWA North Staff & South Cheshire Branch - Producing Results

Nine fabulous volunteers turned out on a rather chilly day for the first work party of the year at Crumpwood on the Uttoxeter Canal. They soon warmed up after building a couple of bonfires and doing assorted jobs at Crumpwood Weir and near to Bridge 70. The first was at the far end of the path from Bridge 70, where they burnt a pile of arisings from earlier work parties. They also managed to finish trimming the regrowth from the tree stumps along the line of the towpath in that area. A second bonfire was lit next to the flood-lock, again to burn brash left from the Waterway Recovery Group's reunion camp last November.

On the next few work parties we will be concentrating our efforts in doing preparatory work on Bridge 70 in readiness for WRG's two week-long Canal Camps in April, when they will be doing a major renovation of the bridge including: waterproofing the structure, laying a stone sett deck surface and raising the height of the parapets.

There is an immense amount of work to do before April, so even if you can only spare an hour or two your help would be very greatly appreciated.
Uttoxeter Jan 2016Photo: Vegetation clearance around Bridge 70

Eight willing volunteers turned up on the cold morning of 21st January for the Cheshire Locks work party. It was too cold for the normal painting activity so the team concentrated on filling pot holes in the Red Bull access and parking area; and started work to build a new memorial garden adjacent to the car park and canal.

With the assistance of two Canal & River Trust staff the team moved, levelled and compacted five tonnes of stone and cleared vegetation from the overgrown garden area. At the end of the day with 44 hours of volunteers' effort, a massive improvement really could be seen.
Cheshire Locks Jan 2016Photo: Repairs to pathway and carpark at Cheshire Locks

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch - Keeping Volunteers Busy

On a very cold but bright day seven volunteers plus two staff from IWA Head Office worked on the area around Bridge 10 at Oldington Lane on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Various tasks were carried out including replacing a waymarker post which had been knocked over by a turning vehicle, cutting back vegetation to expose the brickwork around the towpath either side of the bridge, redefining the path edges, litter picking and vegetation clearance from the offside.

A small boat was provided by CRT for the offside vegetation clearance which involved cutting down overhanging branches, tying them with rope and then dragging them to the towpath side for removal. An ideal task this time of year as the waterway was quiet and not a boat was to be seen all day. However the local wildlife was in attendance and most of the group spotted the blue flash of a kingfisher flitting across the water.
BBCW Jan 2016Photo: Removing vegetation from the Staffs & Worc Canal

IWA West Country Branch - Hours Spent Hedgelaying Pays Off

IWA West Country Branch had a busy January, undertaking several work parties and carrying out a range of tasks.  Volunteers completed a towpath litter pick and carried out underwater rubbish removal from below Bridge 33 on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.  They have also spent over 80 volunteer hours hedgelaying at Bathpool Marina, creating a lasting natural hedge barrier and also an important habitat for wildlife.
West Country Jan 2016Photo: Hedgelaying at Bathpool Marina

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch - Festival Preparation

On 12th January IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch's volunteers spent the morning litter picking before the rain came on. They continued on in the afternoon and the party managed to start to clear vegetation on the Muspratts wharfage, opposite Stanley Locks. This job will be completed at the next work party and all work at present is in preparation for IWA's National Campaign Festival at Eldonian Village on 11th - 12th June.

IWA Northampton Branch - Busy Month on Adopted Arm

IWA Northampton Branch held two well attended work parties in January, the first continuing the work over the winter to clear the by-wash channels and cut back encroaching vegetation.  Locks 9 & 10 of the adopted Northampton Arm were tackled at the first work party and were in a bad state of repair, with large growth of saplings and bushes to be cleared out.

The second work party concentrated on the area around Bridge 9b to Lock 17 and involved litter picking.  An enormous amount of litter was removed, amounting to 60 bags of rubbish, six shopping trolleys and a variety of other items.
Northampton Jan 2016Photo: A total of 13 volunteers litter pick a massive 60 bags of rubbish!

In addition to these work parties, in January, IWA Lincolnshire Branch were supporting the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm and Congleton. IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch supporting Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society held their monthly work party weekend at Tardebigge Lime Kilns and IWA Manchester Branch held their monthly work party.

Interested in getting involved as a volunteer with IWA? Take a look at IWA's information on volunteering.  To see if there's a work party planned near you take a look at the IWA Events Calendar.

Tags: IWA Work Parties, Things to Do