June 2016 Work Parties

Northampton Santander Group
Created on 15/07/2016

Photo: Northampton Arm volunteers with Santander staff

June has been a busy month across the branches with painting, planting and litter picking being the main tasks.  Corporate groups have been assisting our volunteers and the ever present Himalayan Balsam has been tackled with enthusiasm.  Read on to find out more -

South Yorks & Dukeries Hold Their First Himalayan Baslam Bash

On Sunday 5th June 2016, IWA South Yorks & Dukeries held their first Himalayan Balsam Bash at Hexthorpe Park, Doncaster, on the River Don.

Members had become concerned the view of the river had become completely obliterated because of some tall pink flowered plants. It was found after some research that these plants were the very invasive non-native plant, Himalayan Balsam. In some areas it had taken over and eradicated other plants.  Elsewhere it was mixing with other wild plants. How long would it take for the plant to completely take over?

Five branch volunteers turned up on the day. The group started pulling the balsam out and made an area where it could be dumped in order for it rot to down. Several walkers stopped to find out what the volunteers were doing, many of whom were amazed to find out how the plants spread their seeds by their exploding seed pods and the fact that the seeds can spread up to seven metres from the mother plant, and that they will dominate all the other native plants. They also had not realised that when the seedpods exploded near moving water they could be carried downstream and populate another area.

The group worked for solid three hours and cleared a reasonable area, but there is about 90% more Himalayan Balsam to clear. This was a pleasing task to carry out and motivating to see that local walkers appreciated the efforts of the volunteers. The Branch would like to thank everyone who participated with the Balsam Bash and hope they can expand it in the future.

S Yorks HB BashPhoto: Volunteers pull out Himalayan Balsam from along the River Don

Painting the Cheshire Locks Continues

The combined effects of the start of the cruising season and a big Euro game in the afternoon (England v Wales), June's work party was a little smaller & shorter than normal. Five volunteers continued with painting railings around Lock 43 and preparing the planters in the new garden area. Good progress was made but the railings do seem to continue a long way!

During the course of the month some members of the team also continued with painting mileposts and litter picking.

Manchester Branch get Incredible Edible Plot on Ashton Canal

IWA Manchester Branch’s June work party was a huge success with twelve volunteers turning up to construct a raised bed alongside the towpath.  This was then planted with strawberries, beetroot, chives, onions, parsley and peas to complete the Incredible Edible Ashton Canal via IWA Manchester Branch garden. 

This brings the concept of Incredible Edible to the local community and benefits any passing boaters, cyclists and walkers who can help themselves to the herbs and vegetables.  Volunteers had several spare baby pea plants which they were able to give to local walkers and also to passing boaters using the lock, who were mainly completing the Cheshire Ring.

The raised garden has an information board explaining what plants are growing and what the concept is about and will hopefully encourage local people to engage with their local area and deter anti-social behaviour. 
Manchester Incredible EdiblePhoto: Volunteers with their new Incredible Edible vegetable plot

Northampton Arm Gets a Helping Hand from Santander

Over three days at the beginning of June, a large group of around 30 volunteers from Santander left their office environment to lend a hand on IWA Northampton Branch’s adopted Northampton Arm.  Their aim was to spend the three days removing and replacing old fencing at Lock 1.

Volunteers set about removing the old fence, pruning trees back to make room for the new fence, and then digging holes for the new posts to be concreted in place.  The new fence was then installed, the rails were fitted and wire netting installed between  the middle and bottom rails. The whole length of the fence was then painted.  Vegetation was removed from the edges of Lock 1 and the grassy areas mown.  All the bollards from Lock 1 down to Lock 7 were also given a fresh lick of paint.   To finish, the pathway between Locks 1 and 2 were edged and then swept. 

This huge effort by the corporate volunteers from Santander was greatly appreciated by IWA Northampton Branch and the area around Lock 1 is now looking very smart indeed.

Variety of Work by West Country Volunteers

IWA West Country Branch continue to be very active at their two adopted areas on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.  In Bridgwater the volunteers continued their painting project and have now completed painting the railings around the Bridgwater Docks Inner Basin.  They have now started working on the dockside fixtures and fittings, including the historical items sited on the dockside.  Floating rubbish was also removed from the docks area and vegetation cleared from the walls of Newtown Lock.

At the Taunton end of the canal there were two Himalayan Balsam bashes – one involving a local school with over thirty Year 7 schoolchildren and their tutors learning about identifying and removing this invasive plant.

IWA West Country Branch also led a community group waterside litter pick on 20th June, attracting over 20 volunteers and clearing a large amount of rubbish from the banks of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.
West CountryPhoto: Litter pickers out in force at Frenchweir Park

River Gipping Trust Tackles Invasives

The River Gipping Trust, supported by IWA Ipswich Branch undertook two work parties in June at Pipps Ford with the intention of removing as much Himalayan Balsam as possible from the lengths of the River Gipping.  Volunteers cleared all the obvious growth from the areas they worked on but are aware the enormity of the task to clear the entire length of the river.  However, every little bit helps and the volunteers will be checking each week in the location to prevent regrowth of the plant.
Pipps Ford HBPhoto: Tackling Himalayan Balsam on the River Gipping

In addition to these work parties, in June, IWA Lincolnshire Branch supported the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Uttoxeter Canal, Macclesfield Canal, Trent & Mersey Canal and the Burslem Arm. IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch supported Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society at their monthly work party weekend at Tardebigge Lime Kilns and held their own work party on the Staffs & Worcs Canal. IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch worked in Chester on the Shropshire Union Canal, and IWA Oxfordshire Branch supported Banbury Canal Partnership at their regular work parties throughout the month.

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.