November 2013 Volunteer Work Parties
November had challenging weather conditions at times but this didn’t affect the number of work parties taking place. Volunteers met on twelve days across the country to help maintain and improve the waterway network. Below, reports from a selection of the work parties have been put together so you can find out what IWA volunteers got up to in November.
IWA Warwickshire Branch – Monday 4th & Wednesday 6th
IWA Warwickshire Branch volunteers turned out for the first of the two monthly work parties at Hatton on the Grand Union Canal on Monday 4th November and were joined by CRT Volunteer Lockeepers. The group's main task was to move a workboat and tug back to Hatton Yard. The hold was filled with a large pile of scrap iron and general debris - including a good part of a wrecked wooden cruiser. This was just part of the haul that had been collected at the recent IWA "trolley trawl" on the Grand Union Canal from Warwick Tesco to the Avon Aqueduct. During the climb from the bottom of the flight to the yard the group cleared debris and vegetation and took the chance to prune a large number of overhanging branches.
The second work party of the week, 6th November, was unfortunately met with a mix of steady drizzle and occasional heavy showers that continued throughout the day. However, this did not put people off with a larger turn out than the previous sunny work party and two new volunteers were welcomed to the group. While part of the workforce unloaded around a ton of scrap iron into a truck for it's journey to the scrap dealers the rest worked hard to complete the car park fence, which had been started a couple of months previously. Digging postholes in a mixture of mud, tree roots, broken concrete and brick was certainly a challenge.
IWA Lichfield Branch – Friday 8th
IWA Lichfield Branch's Friday work party saw a lucky thirteen volunteers working in the Brindley Bank area by the aqueduct on the Trent and Mersey Canal in Rugeley.
The aim of the work party was to get the area well prepared for the coming winter months. Firstly, the footpath from the bottom of the ‘Bloody Steps’ to the aqueduct was finished, the grass had the last cut of the year and the steps were cleared of leaves and accumulated moss to make them safer during the winter months. Whilst these winter preparations went ahead, work to rebuild the wharf wall continued.
The value of IWA Lichfield Branch’s efforts was highlighted by a visit from the local Police Community Support Officer, who advised that reported incidents of anti-social behaviour are well down since IWA started its work. This clearly illustrates how the work of volunteers can benefit the wider community as well as the waterways.
Top photo (Courtesy of Margaret Beardsmore): Volunteers at Brindley Bank
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch – Thursday 14th & Saturday 16th
On Thursday 14th November, a group of seven volunteers (with both IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust) met up to continue working on the cast iron bridge at Hazelhurst Junction on the Caldon Canal. It was a job started in September but poor weather delayed the completion of the task. The cast iron and stone bridge, built in 1842, is Grade 2 Listed, and dates back to when the current Hazelhurst Locks were built. Volunteers at earlier work parties had stripped and repainted the bridge and in November worked to resurface the walkway.
The following Saturday volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch were out again but this time at the Cheshire Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal. Throughout 2013, the group has been working steadily up the Cheshire lock flight, painting and clearing vegetation. The group’s work had caught the attention of residents at Malkins Bank near Sandbach, who enquired whether the group could work on the four locks at Malkins Bank, starting at lock 63. The volunteers were happy to move onto this section of the Cheshire Locks, which were in a poor state of repair. In November, the group concentrated on the metalwork, preparing the long metal rail running the length of the locks that was then painted with metal rust inhibiting paint. Further vegetation work was also carried out and whilst further work is needed (hopefully to be completed by the spring), the overall impact shows a much improved set of locks.
Photo: Trent & Mersey Canal - Lock 63, improved but work still to be done
IWA Guildford & Reading Branch – Wednesday 20th
IWA Guildford & Reading Branch held its second work party on 20th November at Fobney Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The weather was wet but more new faces turned out to help improve what is often a neglected area.
The volunteers started in the car park giving the area a general tidy, a variety of rubbish was collected and piled ready to be taken away before moving on to the lock area and then up the towpath towards Reading. The group worked the stretch of canal from Fobney Lock to County Lock, an impressive distance on what was a miserable day in terms of the weather.
Photo: Volunteers at Fobney Lock Car Park
IWA Manchester Branch – Saturday 23rd
IWA Manchester Branch and CRT’s Towpath Taskforce returned to Bridge 6 on the Peak Forest Canal for the November clean-up. The over-bridge ramp and up-stream ramp cobbles were cleared of grass and weed whilst the once planted soil areas were further pruned and habitats formed. A section of under bridge railing was painted whilst some ten bags of rubbish were litter picked. All of the many passers-by voiced their thanks of our efforts. IWA Manchester Branch is hoping to adopt the area and will begin this process by holding regular monthly work parties at the bridge.
Photo: Bridge 6 on the Peak Forest Canal
IWA West Country Branch – Tuesday 26th
IWA West Country Branch’s Bridgwater Docks Work Party on Tuesday 26th November, supported by CRT, was successful with fourteen volunteers collecting over fifty bags of rubbish from the dock area on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. The group also dragged, fished and grabbed a motorbike, tyres, cones, and other items from the water over an enjoyable four and a half hours. At least four Bridgwater & Taunton boating organisations and local businesses were represented including IWA West Country Branch, the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal Association, CRT and the Environment Agency, many thanks to them all.
Photo: Bridgwater Dock
So November was a busy month for many of the branches, other work parties that went ahead included two held by IWA Warwickshire Branch at Lapworth, one held by IWA Northampton Branch on their adopted stretch and the monthly IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch work party on the Dee Arm. If you’re interested in getting involved with a work party, look at the IWA calendar to see what’s planned for December and 2014.