March 2015 Work Parties

Created on 21/04/2015

Thankfully, March brought dryer weather, which really helped some branches push on with painting that they’ve been itching to tackle for a while. Work parties across the country seem to be attracting more and more volunteers as the work the branches undertake catches the eyes of locals who then want to do their bit for the community. IWA West Country Branch’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the local Mayor who visited a work party in March and IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch was lucky enough to be joined by local Scouts at its annual Cleanup on the Erewash Canal. So busy branches all round, but luckily their appears to be lots of interest in helping too. Read on to see why people are so keen to get involved!

Sixty Volunteers at IWA Warwickshire Branch’s Latest Spring Cleanup

Photo: IWA Warwickshire volunteers help boat arrive to pick up rubbish at Leamington Spa CleanupPhoto: IWA Warwickshire volunteers help boat arrive to pick up rubbish at Leamington Spa Cleanup

IWA Warwickshire Branch held its latest spring cleanup of the Grand Union Canal and the adjoining towpath between Tachbrook Road and St. Mary’s road in Leamington.

A diverse group of sixty volunteers used grappling hooks to haul a variety of items from the canal bed. These included the usual selection of shopping trolleys and bicycles, plus two van doors and axles, a wheelie bin, a water butt, three motorcycles, lots of pipe and a mixture of metal and plastic. In addition, a litter pick produced over 30 black sacks of rubbish.

The volunteers were made up of IWA members, Warwick University students, St Mary’s Road residents, Love Leamington members and local residents; all supported by Canal & River Trust (CRT) staff and work boat.
As well as filling the CRT boat with rubbish, two large trailer loads of metal were carted away to be recycled. Local MP, Chris White made a visit and was very impressed by the volume and variety of the collection.

It is planned to continue the cleanup of the canal and newly laid towpath in Leamington in the autumn with a further event concentrating on the section from St. Mary’s Road towards Radford Semele. If you would like to help or would like details of other, similar events please email

Mayor Shows Support for IWA West Country Branch

IWA West Country Branch’s work party at Firepool Lock on 14th March was attended by thirteen volunteers. It also turned out that the Branch’s hard work had been noticed by the Mayor of Taunton Deane, David Durdan, who also attended the work party.

The Mayor was very much at home on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and showed that he is a keen supporter of the Branch and its work. He enjoyed chatting to and getting stuck in with the group that was litter picking, clearing vegetation and weeding.

The Branch’s second work party of the month covered four areas around Bridgwater Docks on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Twelve volunteers, two of whom were new to volunteering with the Branch, split into groups and worked along the towpath from Crossways Swing Bridge through to Bridgwater Docks, litter picking and weeding as they went, in total, twenty-five black sacks of rubbish were filled.

Improved Weather Aids Progress at the Cheshire Locks

Photo: Volunteers at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's March work party on the Trent & Mersey Canal (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)Photo: Volunteers at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's March work party on the Trent & Mersey Canal (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)

Volunteers with IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch were lucky to have much nicer weather for their work party on 19th March than they had faced back in February. The team was at locks 44 and 45 on the Trent & Mersey Canal and spent the day cutting back overgrown vegetation, cleaning setts and copings and preparing for painting. Additionally, the volunteers carried out another litter pick and filled nine bags, despite having litter picked only a month previously.

Altogether, a very satisfying day was had by all with good progress made that will enable the Branch to concentrate on painting as the weather warms up.

Burslem Arm Work Parties Continue to be a Success

Photo: Hilary and Kate at Burslem Arm work partyPhoto: Hilary and Kate at Burslem Arm work party

Volunteers with IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Burslem Port Trust have been exceptionally busy, and once again cleared more vegetation than they could burn on 24th March.

The group completed clearance of the junction are and started to work along the line of the Canal. The view from the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal to the centre of Burslem has now been revealed and you can start to get a sense of the junction as a destination.

The group from the local Towpath Taskforce continued its tree clearance beside the canal and there are just a few trees left to take out with a chainsaw at a later date. Volunteers also collected a selection of debris ranging from a large carpet to a shopping trolley. In between the work, time was found to talk with Canal & River Trust about an interpretation project the group is involved with.

The group is certainly enthusiastic and enjoyed themselves as the day flew by. It was also encouraging to have a new volunteer from just a couple of streets away join the group, it would suggest the work and the team behind it, is being noticed by the community. Work parties are currently held on week days but there was a discussion about running a weekend work party as well, please email Steve Wood if this is of interest to you.

Erewash Canal Cleanup a Real Success

Photo (top): Erewash Canal Cleanup team gathers ready to set off on Saturday (photo by Archie Roberts)

On Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March, volunteers gathered for the annual Erewash Canal Cleanup. Both days, the first led by Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association and the second by IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch, were once again a great success. Despite spells of wet weather, the volunteers covered the distance from Gallows Inn public house to Trent Lock over the two days, a distance of about 8 miles, grappling rubbish from the canal bed and litter picking as they went.

On Friday, about twenty volunteers between Gallows Inn and Sandiacre Lock filled half the pan supplied by Canal & River Trust with bicycles, chairs, tyres and other debris. The opportunity was also taken to clear offside overhanging vegetation in key spots, which has had a significant effect on opening out the restricted channel. On the Saturday, about twenty volunteers were also joined by a section of the 1st Sawley Scouts and their leaders as part of work towards their community badge. Saturday's efforts saw a similar haul of rubbish and debris, which filled the remainder of the pan, although comments were made on how the amount of rubbish had reduced  compared to previous years – a welcome result of the group’s hard work.  

The Canal is now looking ready for spring and will hopefully be enjoyed more and more as the weather improves.

Volunteers Prepare Site for Installation of Tidal Gauge

Volunteers at IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch’s work party were at Chester Dee Lock on 28th March to cut back overhanging saplings and clear most of the moss from the lock coping stones. This work was carried out in preparation for the installation of a tidal gauge at the Lock. The work completed by volunteers means there is now a better view of the area where the gauge will be installed.

IWA Northampton Branch Collects Over Sixty Bags of Rubbish in March

Photo: IWA Northampton Branch volunteer paints lockside building at Lock 1, Northampton ArmPhoto: IWA Northampton Branch volunteer paints lockside building at Lock 1, Northampton Arm

IWA Northampton Branch held another four work parties on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal in March. Lately, the Branch has focused on litter clearance, with the aim to remove as much rubbish as possible before the vegetation grows and hides it from view. In total, over sixty bags of rubbish were collected in March, as well as some larger items including six shopping trollies and four tyres. In addition to litter picking, the weather was bright enough towards the end of March to start painting. The volunteers painted the top gates of Lock 2 and the garage by Lock 1, hopefully the weather will continue to be dry so that painting can be continued.

IWA Milton Keynes Branch Prepares Fenny Stratford Lock for Spring

Improved weather in March was just what IWA Milton Keynes Branchvolunteers wanted when they returned to Fenny Stratford on the Grand Union Canal after their winter break. They managed to plant, stake, collar and water fifty whips, which filled the last gaps in the hedge up to Bridge 96, many had already been filled in 2014. The group also did some maintenance work to the whips planted last year, replacing any that had failed and re-staking a few where necessary. In addition, volunteers weeded, removed dead growth, planted donated plants and bulbs in the pump house garden, cleaned the Swing Bridge and rubbed down and re-painted the white balance beam ends.

In addition to these work parties, in March, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch worked on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, IWA Lichfield Branch spent the weekend on the Trent & Mersey Canal, IWA Manchester Branch was out again, IWA South Yorkshire & Dukeries Branch was on the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, and IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Uttoxeter Canal with Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and the Macclesfield 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