October 2014 Work Parties

Created on 18/11/2014

October was a wet month for a lot of the work parties, but this did not keep the volunteers away with many digging out the waterproofs and braving the weather. IWA Manchester and Milton Keynes Branches each had over fifty volunteers attend their two-day events, with such help the navigations were really improved. This month also saw one branch contribute to a Britain in Bloom gold medal win, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch finish its storage project and a number of volunteers complete the restoration of a wharf crane. Read on to find out more!

IWA Leicestershire Branch Work Party Features on BBC Radio

Photo: Volunteers at IWA Leicestershire Branch's Lime Kiln Lock Clean-up (photo by Alison Smedley)Photo: Volunteers at IWA Leicestershire Branch's Lime Kiln Lock Clean-up (photo by Alison Smedley)

A wet and windy forecast was against IWA Leicestershire Branch on Saturday 4th October, the day of its canal clean-up on the Soar Navigation in Leicester. A selection of dedicated volunteers braved the morning weather and were, thankfully, rewarded with a sunny afternoon.

The group were tasked with cleaning up the navigation, collecting rubbish from both the towpath and the water. Armed with litterpickers and grappling hooks the volunteers had collected seventeen bags of rubbish and assorted larger items out of the canal by lunchtime. This had increased to a full trailer load of rubbish including a bicycle and an almost serviceable office chair, by the end of the day.

Leicester City Council and Canal & River Trust (CRT) were there to help with equipment and support. The Council
provided three workboats which were used to collect floating rubbish and access rubbish on the offside.

The team also had a chance to publicise what they were up to when Julie Mayer from BBC Radio Leicester also braved the wet weather to interview four of the volunteers live on the “Tony and Julie” Saturday morning radio show. With this excitement, a sunnier afternoon and the satisfaction of a job well done everyone had a good time despite earlier torrential rain!

IWA Manchester Clean-up

Photo: Volunteers grappling at Operation Manchester (photo by Alison Smedley)Photo: Volunteers grappling at Operation Manchester (photo by Alison Smedley)

The first weekend of October was IWA’s annual big clean-up in Manchester. Following on from successful events in 2013 and 2014, volunteers returned to the canals of Manchester on October 4th and 5th, armed with grappling hooks to remove hidden items from the depths of Manchester’s waterways.

Over the weekend 52 volunteers, including twelve Officer Cadets from Manchester & Salford Universities Royal Naval Unit, came out to help. Work focused on the Ashton and Rochdale Canals, from which volunteers filled two skips with rubbish pulled from the water. On top of this nineteen solid fence panels, two heras fence panels, over thirteen long (up to 5 metres in length) pieces of scrap metal, a stop plank, a lamp post, a 4.5 metre ladder, a big red child’s car, a double mattress and numerous shopping trollies and bicycles were pulled from the canalbed.

It was not just canal rubbish that was tackled with volunteers litter picking up to Lock 3 on the Ashton Canal and Lock 81 on the Rochdale Canal. Vegetation was also tackled and cut back at Lock 82 on the Rochdale Canal and around the first two bridges from Ducie Street Junction on the Ashton Canal.

Overall, the weekend was a great success, even though the weather was very wet on Saturday!

Congleton Work Parties Contribute to Reduction in Litter and Britain in Bloom Success

Photo: Volunteers at the IWA work party on the Macclesfield Canal at CongletonPhoto: Volunteers at the IWA work party on the Macclesfield Canal at Congleton

On Friday 24th October, a wet and windy day, eight volunteers turned up to continue IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch’s work party work on the Macclesfield Canal in Congleton.

The removal of overhanging branches between bridges 75 and 76 was completed as well as further clearance of vegetation at Bridge 76. Regular litter picking is a feature of these work parties with a particular issue along the towpath near the railway station. Whilst further litter was collected, it was good to record that the amount of litter has significantly decreased since the regular work parties began and opening up the area along the towpath as helped make the whole area more pleasant for all canal and towpath users.

Some further good news is that in the recent Britain in Bloom competition, Congleton was awarded a gold medal in the large town category, narrowly missing out by a few points on winning the overall category. The regular canal work party activity featured as one of the town’s contributions towards the award and the judges made specific mention of the efforts being made to encourage community engagement in the town.

IWA Milton Keynes Branch Joined by Scouts and Cubs at Annual Autumn Clean-up

Photo: Volunteers grappling from CRT hopper (photo by John Highmore)Photo: Volunteers grappling from CRT hopper (photo by John Highmore)

IWA Milton Keynes Branch held it annual autumn canal clean-up on 17th and 18th October. The turn out was great with over fifty volunteers helping out across the two days, including fifteen Scouts and Cubs on the Saturday.

Over the two days, volunteers travelled over 9 miles of the Grand Union Canal from Fenny Stratford to Grove Lock by boat and foot, using grappling hooks to remove submerged rubbish from the canalbed, as well as tackling floating litter. The rubbish collected weighed in at over five and a half tons. The Scouts and Cubs pulled out five bicycles and two shopping trolleys whilst other volunteers found another twelve bikes and eight shopping trolleys as well as four motorbike frames, two tractor tyres, a camera and a double mattress amongst other assorted items. The great work was only achieved thanks to the nearly 400 hours spent by those at the work party grappling, litter picking and navigating boats.

IWA Milton Keynes Branch is grateful for CRT’s support before and during the event, much of the rubbish would still be in the canal had Ian and Paul not been on hand with CRT’s dredger to pull it out. Thanks also goes to Wyvern Shipping, that once again sponsored the event with its managing director, James Griffin, towing CRT’s 70ft hopper with his seagoing narrowboat Ocean Princess. Thanks also to Jonathan Brown and Athina Beckett who took the 40ft CRT pan workboat with their narrowboat Brown Trout. Both workboats were used as bases to grapple from and tackle offside litter. The fleet was completed by six IWA Branch members’ boats that provided much needed tea, coffee and cake!

Finally, thanks goes to all the volunteers, especially the Scouts and Cubs, whose efforts both before and during the clean-up resulted in another successful event!

Shardlow Crane Restoration

Photo (top): Volunteers by Shardlow Crane

Volunteers with WRG and IWA have recently been involved with the restoration of a wharf crane in Shardlow. Working alongside volunteers from Trent & Mersey Canal Society, Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association and Shardlow Heritage Group, the team has brought the crane back to its former glory.

The wharf crane by Steven’s warehouse in Shardlow on the Trent & Mersey Canal was donated to the village when the company closed in the late 1970s. By 2007 the wooden jib was in poor condition due to rot and was removed by Trent & Mersey Canal Society work party; with the intention of making a new jib. Nothing had happened by 2011 and whilst having some ex-British Waterways stop planks cut into smaller planks with a large band saw by Charles Gregory Ltd. in Tansley, John Baylis asked if they could also cut a new jib to the original pattern.

Charles Gregory Ltd. could do the job at a reasonable cost and it was agreed that WRG East Midlands would take over the project. The new 21ft jib was cut from a piece of larch and tapered to octagonal shape before seasoning and sanding, prior to being finally Tanalised. The jib was delivered to Shardlow where the original cast iron ends were fitted and the whole given several coats of white paint. Meanwhile the base had been cleaned down and several large new bolts made to the original dimensions.

On 24th October, the jib was delivered to the site on working narrowboat Bath and erected into position by the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association work party, which is  based at Langley Mill. With other IWA and Shardlow Heritage Group members, a total of fourteen volunteers assisted with the work. The total cost of the work at nearly £600 was funded by a donation from Trent & Mersey Canal Society and other local donors.

IWA West Country Branch at Bridgwater Docks

Photo: Volunteers painting at Bridgwater Docks October work party (photo by Mike Slade)Photo: Volunteers painting at Bridgwater Docks October work party (photo by Mike Slade)

On 25th October, IWA West Country Branch was out at Bridgwater Docks on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. Volunteers met outside the newly installed IWA container for the first time and were joined by Councillor Brian Smedley, who stopped by to chat with those involved in the project. Volunteers then continued with the Branch’s painting project. The group is painting the numerous metal structures around the Docks, many of which were originally installed to cater for the large sea-going vessels that visited Bridgwater and are now an important part of its history.

IWA South Yorkshire & Dukeries Branch Autumn Clean-up

Sunday 26th October saw IWA South Yorkshire & Dukeries Branch’s biannual clean up take place. This was once again based on the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, where volunteers met and worked towards Rotherham.

Thirty-six volunteers from IWA, Abbeydale Rotary Club, Tinsley Boat Club and Adsetts Canal Project took part, all supervised by CRT’s Dave Walker. There is to be a major stoppage on the canal in January/February time, so the group targeted the area where much of the work is to take place, collecting a total of sixty-six bags of rubbish. This was to give a clear path for the work team to determine where to locate a roadway that will have to be constructed to enable machinery access to the site. The canal is to be completely de-watered between locks 3 and 8 during the works.

As usual, pie and peas were served and enjoyed by the volunteers after the event.

IWA Branch and Local Waterway Trust Complete Storage Project

For some time both IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust committees had been aware that suitable storage for work party tools, display boards, gazebos and other items of kit was needed. After much deliberation, and the offer of the use of a corner of a field belonging to members, a joint shed was agreed upon.  

The project started on 8th May, when the monthly work party, scheduled to be painting the bridge at Hazelhurst Junction, was relocated due to rain. The small team of volunteers who had turned out made a start on digging in the corner of the field, in order to create a level area for concreting later on.

Three consecutive days in June were designated for concreting and shed assembly, and by the end of the first work party day the concrete base had been completed. Over the next two days the shed was assembled and installed with a further session in July held to fit a wooden floor.

The final job was to dig a trench in front of the concrete base and fill it with gravel, to stop water running down the field and into the shed. By chance, the project finished in much the same way it began with the opportunity to carry out this task taken when another monthly work party had to be relocated from painting Hazelhurst Junction Bridge due to rain, on 9th October. Four volunteers dug and filled the trench with almost 1 tonne of pea gravel, in very quick time. The next day, the shed was finally declared finished and it is now ready to use!

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