June 2015 Work Parties

Created on 21/07/2015

Many branches had a go at tackling Himalayan Balsam in their local areas in June as this tends to be a good month to have a good go at removing it – it isn’t so short you spend the whole day bent in half but it hasn’t gone to seed either. In addition, branches were also busy installing litter bins, painting locks and litter picking. One branch made full use of the dry weather and spent a whole week painting a Grade II listed bridge. Read on to see what a good job they did of it!

IWA West Country Branch at Bridgwater Docks and Bathpool

IWA West Country Branch had a busy June. Its first work party on 6th June, was at Bridgwater Docks on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Ten volunteers prepared and painted the railings and cleared rubbish from the Docks, which included three bicycles, four trollies and enough general waste to fill two commercial bins with general waste.

Later in the month on 20th June, IWA West Country Branch further improved the new picnic area the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal at Bathpool. Earlier in the year the group had installed two new picnic benches and followed this up in June with the installation of a new litter bin, which will hopefully keep the area tidy and encourage further use of the new facilities. The Branch also continued its efforts to tackle Himalayan Balsam, removing the invasive species in the Priorswood area of Taunton whilst also litter picking the towpath.

Hazelhurst Junction Bridge Project

Hazelhurst Junction Bridge before it was paintedPhoto: Hazelhurst Junction Bridge before it was painted (photo by Alison Smedley)

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch devoted a week to painting the iconic cast iron bridge at Hazelhurst Junction on the Caldon Canal in June. The Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust had started the project over a year a go but a turn in the weather and other pre-planned events  meant that it was never finished.  

With a week at the beginning of June dedicated to the task, good weather, enthusiastic volunteers on hand and the presence of a work boat arranged (to help reach the tricky spots under the bridge) the Grade II listed structure was completely re-painted within the week. Firstly, the metalwork was prepared and old flaking paint careful scraped of the underside of the bridge (and collected so it did not end up in the canal) and the scalloped design of the parapets wire brushed. A zinc rich primer was then applied where bare metal had been exposed, followed by white or black Hammerite, depending on which bit of the bridge was being painted.  As it is a Listed structure, all the paint had to be like-for-like according to the previous colour scheme, although it was interesting to note historic photographs showing it painted all white, and all black, and numerous variations of black and white, over the years. The fiddly job of repainting the 1842 date on the bridge was undertaken by a volunteer who also happened to be a professional artist, much to the relief of the rest of the group.

Hazelhurst Junction Bridge after it was paintedPhoto: Hazelhurst Junction Bridge after it was painted

Over the week, fourteen different volunteers contributed a total of twenty-six days work, and the bridge now looks much smarter, as the many boaters, cyclists and walkers were commenting by the end of the week.

IWA Lichfield Branch Joins Himalayan Balsam Campaign

Photo: Phil pulling Himalayan Balsam at IWA Lichfield Branch work party (photo by Clive Walker)Photo: Phil pulling Himalayan Balsam at IWA Lichfield Branch work party (photo by Clive Walker)

On 17th June, IWA Lichfield Branch contributed to the Himalayan Balsam campaign with a work party to tackle the invasive species along the river section of the Trent & Mersey Canal between Wychnor and Alrewas weir.

The group worked along the towpath and found several major clumps, especially opposite the boat moorings. Some volunteers also worked from a small boat to access the plants on the water’s edge and on the offside, which needed to be slashed rather then pulled. A large area near the weir was cleared, and CRT cleared beneath the towpath bridges where it was carrying out repair works.

The Branch plans to see just how successful the removal was once the plant flowers in a few weeks time and will perhaps make a return visit if needed.

Phil Sharpe's full report and photos from the work party can be viewed at IWA Lichfield Branch's web pages.

Volunteers Complete Work at Lock 45 on the Trent & Mersey Canal

 Volunteers paint Lock 45 on the Trent & Mersey CanalPhoto: Volunteers paint Lock 45 on the Trent & Mersey Canal

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch held its sixth Cheshire Locks work party of the year at Red Bull on 18th June, and successfully finished painting Lock 45 of the Trent & Mersey Canal before beginning the preparation of Lock 46 for painting.

In the first half of 2015, the Branch volunteers have, to date, contributed 288 hours of painting and gardening. Both regular volunteers and recent new faces have worked through foul weather and, at last, some sunny spells to achieve this.

Locks 44 and 45 now look at their best, and the group plans to complete the uplift of Lock 46 by September.

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch to Launch New Work Parties

Photo: Volunteers litter pick on IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work partyPhoto: Volunteers litter pick on IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work party

IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch had a great work party on 27th June, when the volunteers collected litter along the Shropshire Union Canal from Cow Lane Bridge to Deva Aqueduct, including the North Basin and the Dee Branch. The group was also pleased to see the new interpretation panels installed on the Dee Branch and the building works at North Basin now complete.

With the Chester work parties now well established, the Branch is looking at adding new dates and locations to its volunteer calendar later in the year. Firstly, following the successful pilot event at Eldonian Village in April the Branch plans to start regular work parties in the Litherland area from September. The Branch also had a successful weekend at the H&R Ainscough Barge Restoration Group Centre and have been invited to get involved in this area and are developing plans to work in partnership with IWA Lancashire & Cumbria Branch and CRT to start regular work parties in the area. If you are interested in either of these opportunities, or indeed the well established Chester work parties, contact Mike Carter.

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, the Uttoxeter Canal and on the Macclesfield Canal in Congleton, IWA Northampton Branch was out in force again on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch were pulling Himalayan Balsam on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (they even had a visit from Waterways World's Andrew Denny, take a look in August's Canal Boating Times to see what he thought of it all), IWA Lincolnshire Branch were supporting the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA Manchester Branch had its monthly work party, IWA Lee & Stort Branch held its annual Canal Cleanup in Ware, IWA Leicestershire Branch supported a Himalayan Balsam pull on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal and IWA East Yorkshire Branch tackled the invasive plant on the Pocklington 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