July 2015 Work Parties

Created on 19/08/2015

July was a busy month for IWA branches with work party volunteers turning to various tasks including more Himalayan Balsam pulling, painting over graffiti and even rescuing ducks! Read on for information of what our branches have been up to on the waterways.

IWA West Country Branch’s Himalayan Balsam Pull

IWA West Country Branch has removed Himalayan Balsam from the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal as part of monthly work parties since May but on 4th July had a dedicated work party to really tackle the plant. Plenty was pulled up to help improve the waterway environment and to date volunteers have covered over a mile of the canal.

Work Parties Back to Normal Following Fuel Spill

Due to the fuel spill at Gayton Junction on the Northampton Arm of Grand Union Canal earlier in June, IWA Northampton Branch’s planned lock painting was put on hold. Come July, things were thankfully 'back to normal' and the volunteers were able to resume work where they left off. The volunteers put in a hard days work on 14th July and managed to complete painting at locks 10 and 11 as well as the bollards, once the grass had been cleared from around the bases!

Himalayan Balsam Tackled on the Newport Canal

Photo: Clearing the StrinePhoto: Clearing the Strine

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust, supported by IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch, held a work party in July to tackle Himalayan Balsam and continue the job volunteers started last year.

The source of Himalayan Balsam on the Newport Canal was tracked to Strine Park, so it was decided that this year’s work party would attempt to clear both the canal and the Strine to the east of Town Lock to prevent Himalayan Balsam spreading back on to the canal. Volunteers met to carry out the plan and were amazed at how successful last year's efforts to clear the canal to the east of Town Lock had been, finding very little Himalayan Balsam on this section. What was there was cleared by three volunteers whilst the rest of the group went into Strine Park and managed to clear the plant from both the park and the Strine. They were helped by a path that has recently been created along the Strine, which gave easy access to the stream bank. Volunteers even had time to clear the towpath to the west of Town Lock as far as Tickethouse Lock, to clear the high walled section of the Strine alongside the Town Bridge cross-over bridge and to make a small start on the west side offside.

Volunteers also met the landowner whose land covers a long length along both sides of the Strine from Strine Park to the school. After explaining about Himalayan Balsam and showing him what it looks like, he was enthusiastic to clear his land of the invasive species.

 Hopefully, this year’s experience will be repeated next year and the volunteers will be able to fairly quickly remove reduced amounts of Himalayan Balsam from areas covered previously and then move on to make a serious start on the western sections.

Lock 46 on the Trent & Mersey Canal Nears Completion

IWA North Satffordhsire & South Cheshire Branch volunteer preparing railings at the Cheshire Locks (16-07-15)Photo: IWA North Satffordhsire & South Cheshire Branch volunteers preparing railings for painting

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch volunteers were well on their way to meeting their aim of completing the uplift of Lock 46 on the Trent & Mersey Canal by September. Good weather on 16th July at their seventh Cheshire Locks volunteer work party of the year helped attract a good turn out of nine volunteers who put in a productive day’s work, completing a couple of finishing touches to Lock 45 and making great strides towards completing Lock 46. The sunshine also brought out the boaters who the volunteers helped through the lock to avoid them getting covered in wet paint.

Improvements at Leathermill Lane

Photo: IWA Lichfield Branch volunteer (photo by Margaret Beardsmore)Photo: IWA Lichfield Branch volunteer (photo by Margaret Beardsmore)

The area around Leathermill Lane Bridge 66 on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Rugeley had been looking neglected for a while, whilst the disused railway bridge pillars at the Brereton end of the town were again covered in offensive graffiti.

So IWA Lichfield Branch decided to generally tidy up the area and ten volunteers, including one as young as seven, spent a couple of hours painting the railway pillars white, the gate and fence by the bridge black, cleaning the cobbles under the bridge, litter picking and cutting back vegetation.

CRT is due to install disabled access to the canal at the Leathermill Lane access, which would further improve the area. There is £50,000 available from the nearby Tesco development, but is yet to be put into action as CRT hopes to get match funding with this money so it can carry out more towpath improvements at the same time.

These work parties are greatly appreciated by local people and pictures posted on the Rugeley Community Facebook page have already received many positive comments and thanks. If anyone elsewhere in the Branch area would like to organise something similar on their section of canal then Margaret Beardsmore, the Branch’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, would be happy to support them.

Work Party Rescues Trapped Ducks

Volunteers at IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work partyPhoto: Volunteers at IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work party

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch volunteers were shown just how much their hard work was appreciated at their July work party when local residents made sure they were supplied with plenty of tea. The volunteers put in a good days work on the Shropshire Union Canal in Chester and removed weeds and cleaned up paving around Dee Lock and Old Port Basin. They then undertook the slightly unusual challenge of rescuing a family of ducks that had become trapped in the lock chamber.

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch Himalayan Balsam Campaign

Photo (top): Volunteers clear Himalayan Balsam on the Caldon Canal at Consall

Many of IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch’s work parties were dedicated to tackling Himalayan Balsam on the Caldon and Uttoxeter canals. The first success of the work parties was the realisation that at sites the volunteers were returning to, having visited them for Himalayan Balsam pulls in previous years, the growth of the plant had clearly reduced. This enabled them to progress into new areas in an attempt to contain the growth of Himalayan Balsam along the canals in the Churnet Valley.  

Further highlights included:

  • Twenty-three volunteers working on the stretch between Consall Station and Flint Mill Lock, in partnership with the Churnet Valley Railway and with assistance from the Personnel and Payroll Department of Michelin.
  • A family volunteering day where young people and older volunteers joining forces to clear the plant on the river section of the Caldon Canal, upstream from Consall Lime Kilns.
  • An evening session with the young people of Cheddleton’s Light Seekers Youth Group, where the Leek Arm was cleared of Balsam between Hazelhurst Junction and Horse Bridge.



In addition to these work parties, in June, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal and on the Macclesfield Canal in Congleton, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch were pulling Himalayan Balsam on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, IWA Lincolnshire Branch were supporting the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA Manchester Branch had its monthly work party, IWA Leicestershire Branch supported a Himalayan Balsam pull on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal, IWA Lancashire & Cumbria Branch supported a Himalayan Balsam pull on the Lancaster Canal in Preston and IWA Warwickshire Branch tackled Himalayan Balsam on the River Avon.

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

Tags: IWA Work Parties

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