October 2015 Work Parties

IWA Milton Keynes Clean Up October 2015
Created on 17/11/2015

October was a busy month for IWA branches with the main theme being the removal of shopping trolleys and a variety of other debris, with one branch's members getting very wet indeed! Taking advantage of the mild weather, other tasks across the regions included vegetation clearance and painting. Read on for information of what our branches have been up to on the waterways.

IWA West Country Branch – Work Boat 'Usk Valley' Proves an Asset

At the beginning of October, seven IWA West Country Branch volunteers collected the Canal & River Trust work boat 'Usk Valley' from Bathpool Moorings and moved her to Bridgwater Docks, removing debris from the canal as the journey progressed. By October 3rd, she was ready for volunteers to use in conjunction with the branch's next two planned work parties.

'Usk Valley' was a great asset in the removal of a large amount of debris from the half mile section of the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal from Newton lock to Bridge 5, working a total of 43 hours.  The many items removed by volunteers included: a shopping trolley, car parcel shelves, car components, bicycles, children's scooters, skateboards, large plastic and oil cloth sheets, many clothing items, a mobile phone, five yellow police cones, as well as countless drinks cans and plastic bottles and eight black sacks of rubbish.Photo: IWA West Country Branch volunteers remove rubbish from the Bridgwater and Taunton CanalPhoto: IWA West Country Branch volunteers remove rubbish from the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal

October has been a busy month for IWA West Country Branch with other tasks being carried out including painting some of Newtown Lock's railings in Bridgwater, vegetation removal from Firepool Lock to a point just past Taunton Town Bridge, a visual inspection of culverts and rubbish removal from the towpath between Firepool Lock and Crown Industrial estate. Another work party involved the Bathpool Marina area with a spruce up by painting the facilities doors.

IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch - Uttoxeter Work Party Volunteers Prepare for WRG's Bonfire Bash

At the Uttoxeter Canal work party on 8th October, organised by IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch, volunteers were able to take advantage of the 'Indian Summer'. The prolonged good weather had seen the canal bed dry up, allowing the group easy access to the tree stumps both in the canal bed and on the offside and volunteers were able to use this advantage to continue with the ongoing task of cutting back the regrowth on the stumps from Bridge 70 upstream towards Alton.Photo: Volunteers at the Uttoxeter Canal clean up, continue with the ongoing task of cutting back the regrowth on the stumps from Bridge 70 upstream towards AltonPhoto: Volunteers at the Uttoxeter Canal clean up, continue with the ongoing task of cutting back the regrowth on the stumps from Bridge 70 upstream towards Alton.

On 15th October nine willing volunteers attended the Cheshire Locks work party, to begin smartening up Lock 43. This continues the excellent work done earlier this year on Locks 44 - 46 around Red Bull and volunteers were pleased to note the support from boaters coming through who admired all the improvements made on the Red Bull lock flight.

Work focused on painting and vegetation clearance, with five of the team concentrating on the metalwork surrounding the lock which had not been painted for many years.  The work of the vegetation team in exposing the cobbled towpath adjacent to the lock has transformed the area and by the end of the day most of the cleaned metalwork was painted and protected for a few more years to come.

IWA Manchester Branch - Percy Pig Supports Annual Manchester Clean Up

The annual Manchester Clean up, organised by IWA Manchester Branch in partnership with Canal & River Trust, took place over the weekend of 10th and 11th October. At this successful event, a wide variety of work was carried out, including rubbish being pulled out of the canal, litter picking, vegetation clearance and painting. Over 30 people took part in the weekend, including staff from Marks & Spencer, supported by Percy Pig.

Based around Lock 69 and Lock 70 of the Ashton Canal in Newton Heath, by the end of the weekend 40 bags of rubbish had been collected, towpath and lockside cobbles had been weeded, and Lock 69 had been painted. Vegetation was also cut right back along a path giving access to the canal and the fence that had been invisible through the undergrowth was then given a coat of paint.

IWA Milton Keynes Branch – Canal Boating Head Joins Milton Keynes Canal Clean-up

Volunteers taking part in IWA Milton Keynes Branch's autumn canal clean-up on the 16th and 17th October, were delighted to be joined by Mike Grimes, Canal & River Trust's newly appointed Head of Boating.

Rubbish grappled from the Grand Union Canal and litter-picked from the banks was collected in Canal & River Trust work boats towed by IWA branch members boats. A motor bike, a complete washing machine and an electric bicycle were the better items gathered among the usual assorted metal and plastic and other rubbish. In total and encouragingly, volunteers report that this was the lightest haul for some time; maybe regard for and appreciation of the canal as valuable heritage and a big local asset is widening.
Milton Keynes Branch has been carrying out clean-ups for almost 30 years and organises bi-annual events sponsored by the Wyvern Shipping Company and supported by Canal & River Trust.Mike Grimes and IWA Volunteers take a tea breakPhoto: Mike Grimes and IWA Volunteers take a tea break

IWA Northampton Branch - By-weir Cleared of Vegetation

After a chilly start, the seven volunteers that attended IWA Northampton Branch's work party on 25th October, soon warmed up once they set to task. Working along the Northampton Arm, the group's aim was to clear the Lock 14 by-weir of vegetation so that water can flow freely from above the lock, down into the next pound. The long grass and brambles were strimmed back, so that access could be gained to the weeds and moss in the by-weir. After lots of scraping the end result was worth all the hard work and will hopefully help keep the pounds in water.IWA Northampton Branch volunteers clear Lock 14’s by-weir of vegetation on the Grand Union CanalPhoto: IWA Northampton Branch volunteers clear Lock 14's by-weir of vegetation on the Grand Union Canal

IWA Warwickshire Branch - 70 Volunteers Take Part in Clean up on the Grand Union Canal

On 25th October, IWA Warwickshire Branch held its latest clean up on the Grand Union Canal and the adjoining towpath between Gullimans Bridge, Sydenham and the ladder Bridge, Althorpe Street, Leamington.

The clean up was extremely well supported and as the day got under way a group of 70 volunteers got to work, using grappling hooks to haul a variety of items from the canal bed. These included the usual selection of shopping trolleys and bicycles, a motorcycle, tyres, girders, fencing panels, road work signs and barriers, lots of pipe, and a sundry mixture of metal and plastic. In addition a litter pick produced over 30 black sacks of rubbish and a large quantity of needles, which were collected by authorised Canal & River Trust staff and disposed of in special receptacles.

With an excellent turn-out, IWA volunteers were joined by St Mary’s Road Residents, the Love Leamington Group, canal enthusiasts, some of whom had travelled from outside the area, Warwick University volunteers plus local residents. Canal & River Trust offered excellent support by proving a large hopper and push tug, gloves, litter pickers, grapples and coordination through volunteer leader, Steve Lambert.

There was almost a show stopping moment when a rope became entangled on the propeller of the tug and it came to a complete halt under Sydenham Road Bridge. After an hour’s struggle, up to the shoulders in cold canal water, the offending length was cut away and the tug restarted to catch up with the hopper which had been bow hauled into Leamington to collect the aforementioned debris.

Other Work Parties

In addition to these work parties, in October, IWA Chelmsford Branch continued supporting Essex WRG on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch held their monthly work party on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. IWA Ipswich Branch continued to support the River Gipping Trust, IWA Lincolnshire Branch were supporting the Sleaford Navigation Trust, IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch worked on the Burslem Arm and the Trent & Mersey Canal. IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch supporting Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society held their monthly work party weekend at Tardebigge Lime Kilns.


Interested in getting involved as a volunteer with IWA? Take a look at IWA's information on volunteering.

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