May 2015 Work Parties

Created on 19/06/2015

May saw branches across the country starting to think about removing Himalayan Balsam, painting, installing picnic benches and more. With plenty to do, dry sunny days were most welcome as were all the enthusiastic volunteers. Read on to see what they all got up to last month.

Painting at Wolverley Court Lock

Photo: Volunteers work on Wolverley Court Lock beam at IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch work partyPhoto: Volunteers work on Wolverley Court Lock beam at IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch work party

Another successful work party for IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch took place on Wednesday 13th May when volunteers returned to Wolverley Court Lock on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. The glorious spring weather enabled them to carry out painting of the balance beams and lock furniture, which had been previously prepared. Careful consideration was taken when choosing the paint type and colours as the Lock has Listed status; it was decided that the traditional black and white colours should be replicated like for like. By the end of the day the finished lock looked very smart, and ready for a return visit in June for Himalayan Balsam pulling around the lock and the adjacent Springfield Park.

Work Continues on the Uttoxeter Canal

Photo: Volunteer at Bridge 70 on the Uttoxeter Canal (photo by Robert Frost)Photo: Volunteer at Bridge 70 on the Uttoxeter Canal (photo by Robert Frost)

On Thursday 14th May, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust volunteers undertook some much needed tasks on the Uttoxeter Canal. During the morning, the group completed the removal of small shrubs, self-set saplings and brambles from in front of Crumpwood Cottage. This has really started to open up the area and it is probably getting closer to how it would have looked in the first half of the 19th century, when the weir-keeper would have needed uninterrupted views of the weir and flood lock from his cottage windows. It is planned that a specialist team from WRG will remove the fallen birch from the weir during their reunion camp in November. The group noted that Forget-me-nots, possibly Myosotis scorpioides, were in flower providing subtle but welcome splashes of colour; and are interested to see what else comes into flower over the coming months. A number of mature trees adjacent to the footbridge had some of their lower branches cut back or removed that were encroaching over the walk way and threatened to poke walkers in the eye as they crossed over.

After lunch, the group moved up to Bridge 70, where volunteers tidied vegetation from around the bridge using the original Caldon Canal Society’s slashers from when the Caldon was restored; they are still giving sterling service. Volunteers worked along the towpath giving the tree stumps a ‘haircut’ to remove the regrowth; this is something that will need to be undertaken on a regular basis, as if these epicormic shoots are allowed to grow too large it will become a much bigger task to remove them in the future. Due to the sensitive nature of the site the group is unable to remove the tree stumps.

Throughout the day there were many walkers, all of whom stopped and chatted, without exception they were all extremely complimentary and appreciative of the hard work that has been done by all the volunteers. It was very nice for the volunteers to know that they are adding something to visitors’ enjoyment of this part of the Churnet Valley.

At the end of June the group plans to start a second Uttoxeter Canal work party each month. This will be on a Saturday to give those who work during the week an opportunity to participate. They will not follow a set pattern but will always be towards the end of the month, dates will be advertised in the newsletter and on the website.

Spring Arrives on the Cheshire Locks

Photo: Volunteers painting at the Red Bull Flight, Cheshire Locks (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)Photo: Volunteers painting at the Red Bull Flight, Cheshire Locks (photo by Andy Hellyar-Brook)

It was evident at IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch's work party at the Cheshire Locks on 21st May that spring has arrived in Church Lawton. The team of eight took advantage of a long, dry day and completed painting Lock 44 and half of Lock 45 on the Red Bull flight on the Trent & Mersey Canal, along with all of the gardening tasks around and between the locks. It was a busy day for boaters and towpath users, all of whom were happy to praise the team’s work and thank them for their efforts.

For the next work party the group plans to continue working at Red Bull to complete Lock 45 and Lock 46 and then organise an opportunity to move back to Harding’s Wood Junction and complete the uplift of the Kidsgrove locks. If you’ve got a few hours spare and fancy helping out on a Thursday, the friendly team would be happy to see you, email Andy Hellyar-Brook for more information.

IWA West Country Branch Volunteers Install Picnic Benches

Photo: New picnic benches installed nest to the Canal at BathpoolPhoto: New picnic benches installed nest to the Canal at Bathpool

IWA West Country Branch volunteers met at Bathpool on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal on 24th May to install two new picnic benches for the public to enjoy this summer.

A group of volunteers began work to install the picnic benches, getting a good deal done before the end of the day. A few returned on Sunday afternoon to add the finish touches.

Another group spent the Saturday clearing foliage and beginning to tackle Himalayan Balsam, which had begun to emerge along the towpath.

Volunteers Work at Hoole Lane and Chemistry Locks

Photo (top): Volunteers at IWA Chester and Merseyside work party

On 30th May, IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch volunteers teamed up with CRT and volunteers from the local Labour constituency party to work at Hoole Lane and Chemistry locks on the Chester lock flight of the Shropshire Union Canal. The force of over thirty volunteers split between the two locks and with so many helping hands and good weather the teams managed to complete painting at both sites.


In addition to these work parties, in May, IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA Manchester Branch had its monthly work party, IWA South Wales Branch supported the Swansea Canal Society on a Himalayan Balsam pull on the Swansea Canal, IWA Northampton Branch was out in force again on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, and IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal and on the Macclesfield Canal in Congleton.

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

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