March 2014 Volunteer Work Parties

Created on 08/04/2014

March often sees an improvement in the weather as spring begins to arrive. With this comes an increase in work parties as volunteers are once again eager to get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air and are as equally eager to do some work on the waterways a number of them will soon be enjoying with family and friends whether by boat, foot or bicycle. We were lucky enough to have some lovely weather in March, which, for once, also fell on weekends. The dry spells helped locks dry out and painting could once again begin. Of course not every work party was lucky enough to be met with such pleasant weather but come rain or shine IWA and IWA's Waterway Recovery Group's (WRG) volunteers were not put off and a lot of work was undertaken in March.

IWA West Country Branch

Photo - Volunteers finish painting the lock gates at Firepool Lock (photo by Stefanie Preston)

On Saturday 1st March, IWA West Country Branch held its first canal clean-up of the spring. Throughout the day around thirty volunteers visited Firepool Lock on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal to lend a hand and improve the area ready for the cyclists, walkers and boaters who will shortly be venturing out more as the weather improves. Many were already using the towpath as the day was lovely and sunny and readily showed their appreciation of the volunteers’ work, proof that work parties like this are valued within the local community.

A group of volunteers cleared rubbish from the car park adjacent to the lock, before cutting back the overgrown vegetation. A second group gave the lock gates some much needed attention and prepared and re-painted the gates, handrails, metal work and mooring bollards.

Finally, a third group litter picked the towpath in both directions and collected over thirty bags of rubbish. The group also removed a large pile of debris from the far side of the lock, a difficult task as it involved moving many heavy barrow loads of wet vegetation along the lock, over the bridge and back to the car park.

Persistent Litter Picks Pay Off on the Dee Branch

It would seem that the routine litter picks that IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch carry out on a monthly basis along the Dee Branch of the Shropshire Union have had a positive affect in the long term as well as the short, as on 1st March when volunteers repeated the task there was a noticeable reduction in litter. With good weather at this work party four volunteers undertook the task of re-painting the railings at Williams Moorings whilst others cleaned up the basin edging stones by Telford’s Wharf pub.

Update from the River Gipping

Volunteers near completion of Pipps Ford bridge (photo by River Gipping Trust)Photo: Volunteers near completion of Pipps Ford bridge (photo by River Gipping Trust)

The latest development on the River Gipping work parties, run by the River Gipping Trust and supported by IWA Ipswich Branch, is the progress made on the new bridge to go over the by-wash at Pipps Ford. It is near completion and should be ready for the Alde Valley Spring Festival in April, for which it will be one of the major exhibits at White House Farm, Great Glemham.

The bridge is made of oak grown and cut to size at the farm where Jason Gathorne-Hardy kindly provided work space. After the festival the bridge will be transported to Pipps Ford for installation.

IWA Chelmsford Branch

IWA Chelmsford Branch and Essex WRG have continued their regular weekend work parties on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in 2014. Over the weekend of 1st-2nd March, volunteers completed concreting the path at the south quay at Heybridge Basin, a job that had been started by London WRG in February.  Paving slabs were also relayed on the existing pathways around the toilet block as they had subsided over the years.

Sun Shines on WRG Volunteers Carrying out Restoration Work on the Pocklington Canal

Photo: WRG North West on the Pocklington CanalPhoto: WRG North West on the Pocklington Canal

Spring arrived on the Pocklington Canal for WRG North West volunteers over the weekend of the 8th March. Sixteen volunteers from WRG North West, worked alongside two members of WRG’s Forestry team and spent the weekend clearing vegetation on the offside of the canal at Bridge 8. The aim of the tree clearance work was to improve light quality along the canal corridor, supporting the work of Natural England who are actively trying to manage tree growth along the canal.

Over the weekend volunteers were interviewed by the local community radio station, Vixen101, which gave them an opportunity to promote WRG’s canal restoration work and explain how to become a dirty weekender!  

WRG plans to return in the summer, holding a Canal Camp on the Pocklington Canal and Driffield Navigation, from the 16th-23rd August. The plan for the camp is for volunteers to improve the towpath on the Pocklington Canal, and to start construction of a new nature trail on the Driffield Navigation. It is hoped that the towpath works will create an amenity for the local community and improve access along the line of the two canals.

Over 80 Volunteers at IWA Warwickshire Branch Work Party

Students from University of Warwick volunteer with IWA Warwickshire Branch. Photo by Warwick LINKSPhoto: Students from University of Warwick volunteer with IWA Warwickshire Branch (photo by Warwick LINKS)

On Sunday 9th March IWA Warwickshire Branch held a work party on the Grand Union Canal. The day was the warmest of the year to date and over eighty volunteers joined the branch to clean-up up the stretch of canal between Clements Street, Leamington Spa, and the Aqueduct over the River Avon in Warwick.

The day had not started well as the tug and hopper had been cast adrift from its moorings by thieves who had stolen the securing ropes. This did not deter the volunteers as once the craft had been retrieved everyone got to work with grappling hooks and litter pickers and collected enough rubbish from the canal and towpath to fill a hopper and car trailer. This was the biggest haul of rubbish IWA Warwickshire Branch has secured from a large clean-up event, which was largely due to the hard work of IWA members, Leamington Spa Army Cadets, students from The University of Warwick, a Warwick youth group and local residents.

The predominant items dragged from the canal were shopping trolleys, around fifty were recovered, and a selection of over twenty bicycles. Other more unusual items collected included, a ladder, a Heras fencing panel, traffic cones, a supermarket advertising banner, a gas bottle and mattresses. The litter pickers produced over thirty bags of rubbish.

The hopper hold was quickly filled to its full capacity with the debris collected. As the hopper was taken back to Hatton, walkers on the towpath stopped to photograph the unusual sight and struggled to believe all the rubbish had come from the canal in one morning.

Overall, the clean-up was a great success due in no small part to the incredible response from the local community and the support from CRT, in particular Steve Lambert who operated the tug and hopper.

February and March on the Northampton Arm

Area of Northampton Arm cleared of vegetation ove February and MarchPhoto: Volunteers clear vegetation on the Northampton Arm

IWA Northampton Branch
has held four work parties in February and March, which have amassed to a further 130 volunteer hours spent on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The branch has concentrated on the Far Cotton area of Northampton, litter picking and clearing vegetation. On the litter pick, volunteers continued from Lock 16 and worked back to Bridge 14, there was so much rubbish over this stretch that it took two work parties to complete the task.

The vegetation clearance was also a much bigger job than first thought and included clearance from the narrows back to Lock 17 where the strimmers that the Branch purchased were put to good use.

In April the branch plans to start painting at the Sanitation Station at Gayton Junction.IWA Northampton Branch has held four work parties in February and March, which have amassed to a further 130 volunteer hours spent on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. The branch has concentrated on the Far Cotton area of Northampton, litter picking and clearing vegetation. On the litter pick, volunteers continued from Lock 16 and worked back to Bridge 14, there was so much rubbish over this stretch that it took two work parties to complete the task.

The vegetation clearance was also a much bigger job than first thought and included clearance from the narrows back to Lock 17 where the strimmers that the Branch purchased were put to good use.

In April the branch plans to start painting at the Sanitation Station at Gayton Junction.

IWA Branch Holds First Monthly Work Party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

BBC&W volunteers on first work party at Falling Sands Lock, Kidderminster.  Photo by Jo SmithPhoto: IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch volunteers on first work party at Falling Sands Lock, Kidderminster (photo by Jo Smith)

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch
held the first of a series of monthly work parties on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal on Wednesday 12th March. Seven branch volunteers gathered at Falling Sands Lock, south of Kidderminster, where they were met by CRT Volunteer Leader, Steve Lambert. Work carried out included painting the lock gates and metal work at Falling Sands Lock, painting a nearby sluice that lets water in to the adjacent River Stour, and planting grass seed to finish a raised bank carried out as a flood precaution

Report on Caldon Canal Work Party 13th March 2014

IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Work Party, Hedge Planting Froghall BasinPhoto: Hedge laying at Froghall Basin (photo by Bob Luscombe)

After such a wet winter, volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust were greeted with warm sunshine when they returned to Froghall Basin on the Caldon Canal for their annual clean-up work party.  Eight willing volunteers spent the day clearing paths of vegetation along both the towpath and around the basin. In addition, a large quantity of rubbish, which had been fly tipped along the towpath near the tunnel was also gathered up for removal.

The volunteers then turned their hand to hedge planting making the most of the short time left for such activity. Some 300 hedging plants of various varieties were planted along the towpath from the tunnel entrance back towards the basin itself.

During the day, media students from the University of Staffordshire joined the work party to film some of the volunteers at work and to interview them on just what volunteering meant to them and why it is important that we encourage volunteers to work with us on the canal network.

At the end of the day, it was good to look at the work done and thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work once again.

Dry Weather Helps Progress at Cheshire Locks

Cheshire Locks, volunteers lock painting at Malkins Bank, by Bob Luscombe 15-03-14Photo: Volunteers lock painting on the Cheshire Locks (photo by Bob Luscombe)

After several wet months, the dry weather of the week meant that volunteers at this month’s Cheshire Locks work party were able to get on with jobs that had been previously deferred. Lock 63 on the Trent & Mersey Canal was the venue for the 15th March IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch work party and a group of volunteers made the most of the dry, if somewhat breezy, conditions to finish painting the lock. Lock 63 is a set of double locks with a large amount of metal railings so it has taken some time to prepare, and paint both the lock gates and all the metalwork. However, the finished work is a fine testament to the work of the various volunteers that have continued throughout the winter months to finish both the vegetation clearance and painting.  

In the afternoon the volunteers moved on to Lock 64, again a double set and given the favourable conditions were able to complete the painting of the gates and wooden mooring posts.

Next month, the branch plans to return to Lock 64 to finish painting the metalwork and cobble clearance, before moving onto Lock 62.

Towpath Raised at Hatton Locks

IWA Warwickshire Branch volunteers, 23-02-14, HattonPhoto: IWA Warwickshire Branch volunteers at Hatton

When clearing the offside towpath up Hatton Locks, it was noted that one stretch had badly subsided. So when IWA Warwickshire Branch members took part in a CRT project with CRT Volunteer Lock Keepers and Towpath Taskforce volunteers, on Lock 40 on the Wilmcote flight of the southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, it became obvious that the large quantity of rubble accumulated from the dismantling of the side wall could be used to raise the level of the path at Hatton. Participants on the Wilmcote project helped move the hopper containing the rubble through 16 miles and thirty-four locks to above Lock 30 on the Grand Union Canal. On Sunday, 23rd March, a dozen Warwickshire Branch volunteers met near the Ugly bridge to unload the hopper containing the rubble, which was positioned alongside the towpath being repaired. A barrow hoist, supplied by CRT, was erected to aid in raising the rubble from the hold. In addition to the hoist, rubble was also shovelled over the gunnels into big bags and dragged to where it was needed. During this time the sun continued to shine even if it was accompanied by a cold wind. As the work was completed by late lunchtime, the volunteers enjoyed an impromptu picnic in the sun by the side of the locks.

Head Office Staff Join IWA Chiltern Branch Work Party Ahead of Acheman Challenge

IWA Chiltern Branch and Head Office Lock Painting, Marsworth, Katie Thomas 26-03-14 6Photo: IWA Head Office staff, Katie Thomas lock painting (photo by Stefanie Preston)

On the 26th March 2014, staff from IWA Head Office joined volunteers from IWA Chiltern Branch, with support from CRT, to repaint a set of locks at Marsworth on the Grand Union Canal, ahead of the Acheman Challenge.  

Volunteers used wire brushes to remove damaged and cracked paint and then re-painted the lock gates and bollards at Lock 43. The task was almost finished by mid-afternoon but, unfortunately, work came to an early end due to rain and the last coat of paint is to be applied at a later date.

Take a look at the timelapse video of the work party. A gallery of photos is also available to view on the IWA Volunteering Facebook page.

55 Volunteers Clean Up Over 5 Miles of the Erewash Canal

Rubbish collected on the Erewash Clean-upPhoto: Rubbish collected on the Erewash Clean-up (photo by Alison Smedley)

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch joined forces with the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association (ECP&DA) and Canal & River Trust (CRT)  to carry out a canal clean up on the Erewash Canal on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th March. The two-day event left the canal between Cotmanhay and Sandiacre, a length of about 5.5 miles, much improved after litter from the towpath and submerged and floating rubbish from the canal was removed.   

CRT supplied two workboats, with staff to operate them, on both days.  A tug and pan travelled down the canal to collect bags of litter and items of rubbish pulled out of the canal by volunteers working ahead on the towpath. This was followed by the workboat Bollin with volunteers on board picking out waterborne litter and rubbish from the offside of the canal. As the team passed through each lock, volunteers also cleared debris from the bywashes.    

ECP&DA volunteers took the lead on the Friday, when about thirty volunteers, including some IWA members, turned out to pull rubbish from the canal between Cotmanhay and Gallows Inn Lock. A litter pick was also carried out and by the end of the first day over fifty bags of rubbish had been collected. These bags, along with the rubbish collected on the work boat Bollin during the day, filled the skip at Gallows Inn Lock.

On Friday a very shiny motorbike was pulled out of the canal. The Police were notified, came to take it away and mentioned that it had only been missing for a week.  Also retrieved from the canal was a trophy with the figure of a boxer. A bit of detective work has discovered that it was presented by the Wolverhampton Amateur Boxing Club.  A spokesman for the club said that they were “intrigued and delighted” to hear of the find, and looked forward to the trophy being returned to them in due course.

On the Saturday, IWA members formed the majority of the twenty-five volunteers who turned out for the second day of the clean up, where the same methods were used to deal with the submerged rubbish, waterborne litter and towpath litter between Gallows Inn Lock and Sandiacre Lock.  

The usual assortment of shopping trolleys, bicycles and tyres were pulled out of the canal, along with much unidentifiable and miscellaneous rubbish. At one point on the Saturday afternoon, a small group of tenacious volunteers collected some eight bags of rubbish out of just one blocked culvert by Pastures Lock. By the end of Saturday when the rubbish from the work boat had been transferred to the pan, it was pretty much full with all the rubbish from the two days’ work.

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