September 2014 Work Parties

Created on 20/10/2014

September has seen the start of IWA’s big autumn clean-ups. The first to get out the grappling hooks and take on the challenge of removing rubbish deposited on the bottom of waterways was IWA Nottinghamshire Branch. The volunteers on this work party pulled out a huge array of items. As well as this, two branches were busy with preparations for waterway festivals and IWA Manchester Branch and WRG North West were supporting a weeklong offside vegetation project. So make sure you have a cup of tea close to hand as there is a lot of volunteer work to catch up on!

September Work Party Weekend on the Chelmer & Blackwater

IWA Chelmsford Branch and Essex WRG joined forces over the weekend of the 6th and 7th September to complete a whole host of tasks at Hoe Mill on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation. With the help of staff from Essex Waterways Ltd. (the Chelmer & Blackwater’s navigation authority and a subsidiary of IWA), volunteers laid 8 tonnes of Type 1 surfacing; created a new rainwater soakaway; built, fitted and painted new eaves, fascias and cladding to the store building; installed new gutters and downpipes on the store building; and gave them a good tidy inside.

IWA Northampton Branch Reach the Halfway Mark

After taking a well-earned summer break from its fortnightly work parties in August, IWA Northampton Branch was back in action on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal on Sunday 7th September. The volunteers tidied up around the sanitation station where the weeds had once again appeared before they finished painting the hut at Lock 1. Work parties are to continue through the autumn with the focus on continuing to paint the locks. Volunteers with the Branch have so far painted just over half of the locks along the arm and are hoping to finish the rest as soon as possible.

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch Move on to Wolverley Lock

Following on from the monthly work parties on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canalin the Kidderminster area, IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch moved slightly further north for their work party on Wednesday 10th September. The volunteers met at Wolverley Lock, where they painted the lock. The day was supported by CRT West Midlands’ Volunteer Co-ordinator, Murray Woodward, who brought the van with tools, coffee and tea, which contributed to a pleasant experience.

Branch Prepares for Caldon Canal 40th Anniversary

Photo: Volunteers at Cheddleton Top Lock work party (photo by Alison Smedley)Photo: Volunteers at Cheddleton Top Lock work party (photo by Alison Smedley)

Volunteers from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust spent time during September continuing to carry out improvements at Cheddleton Top Lock on the Caldon Canal. This meant that the area was looking spick and span for events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the reopening of the Caldon Canal held on 28th September.  A notice board was cleaned, the handrails around the spill weir were given two coats of paint and the balance beams, paddle posts and lock bollards were also painted. 

Off-side Vegetation on the Macclesfield Canal

Photo: Macclesfield Canal offside vegetation project (photo by Bob Luscombe)Photo: Macclesfield Canal offside vegetation project (photo by Bob Luscombe)

Macclesfield Canal Society led a successful week of volunteer work from 14th to 19th September, removing dangerous and nuisance hard vegetation from the Macclesfield Canal Summit, principally on the off-side of the canal.

Twenty-two volunteers drawn from  the Macclesfield Canal Society, IWA Manchester Branch, WRG North West, North Cheshire Cruising Club, Furness Vale Boat Club, Historic Narrowboat Club and the local boaters' community put in a total of thirty-eight volunteer days to clear about 11 miles of canal bank and ten bridge-holes and narrows.

Original plans were to cover the Upper Peak Forest Canal as well as the Macclesfield Canal. However, two days' work were lost due to mechanical problems with the CRT workboat and another half day dealing with the aftermath of the discovery of a wasps' nest on the towpath, which did not appreciate being disturbed.

It was thanks to a partnership that this event went ahead, CRT provided tools, a chipper, a boat, seven workdays of staff time and chipper training for a number of volunteers; the Macclesfield Canal Society recruited the volunteers, planned the work and did the admin; and a CRT lead volunteer operated the workboat, dealt with health & safety and supervised the volunteers. Then of course there were the volunteers who came from a number of organisations.

This was an important event not just because of what was achieved, but because it was the first time volunteers have been deployed in this way, and it has proved that volunteers can be a force multiplier for this type of work. A further useful outcome is a “How to do this right” paper to help CRT and volunteers make future exercises even more successful in Manchester & Pennine and other CRT regions.

Subject to CRT resources, it is intended that vegetation on the Peak Forest Canal summit will be dealt with in a similar manner in 2015.

Nottingham Canal Clean-up, Sunday 21st September 2014

Photo: Just some of the rubbish pulled out by Trent Lane Depot (photo by Alison Smedley)Photo: Just some of the rubbish pulled out by Trent Lane Depot (photo by Alison Smedley)

Almost twenty volunteers turned out in Nottingham for a clean-up of the Nottingham Canal from Meadow Lane towards the city centre, on Sunday 21st September. The day had been organised by IWA Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Branch in partnership with CRT, and the volunteers included IWA members, boaters and local people who wanted to get involved in cleaning up the surrounding area.  

One team of volunteers set off on CRT’s workboat Bollin, to tackle the offside litter and any waterborne litter and submerged rubbish. Meanwhile, two teams of volunteers with grappling irons got to work, and had soon pulled out their first haul of rubbish from the lock chamber at Meadow Lane, before making their way all the way along the first mile of canal, pulling out numerous bicycles, shopping trolleys, fence panels and other assorted items. Later in the day, an enormous amount of scrap metal was pulled out from the canal near Trent Lane.  

Litter picking was carried out between Meadow Lane Lock for over a mile towards the city centre, whilst others weeded and cleared vegetation from around Meadow Lane Lock, the sanitary station service block, and along towards the first bridge.  

By the end of the day, all of the rubbish had been unloaded at CRT’s Trent Lane depot, where it filled one skip, and all the scrap metal went into an enormous pile to be taken away for recycling.

IWA Oxfordshire Branch Helps to Prepare For Banbury Canal Day

Photo (top): Volunteer Jane Homer painting Lock 29 on Oxford Canal, Banbury at IWA Oxfordshire Branch work party (photo by Stefanie Preston)

On Thursday 25th September, volunteers joined IWA Oxfordshire Branch on the chilly morning at Banbury Town Lock on the Oxford Canal. The task was to prepare the canalside area for the upcoming Banbury Canal Day on October 4th. This included painting the lock gates and furniture, putting up signs and cutting vegetation back from the towpath. The lock gates had been painted only the year before but were already well worn and looked significantly better following the lick of paint they received. By the end of the session the area looked much better and ready for Banbury Canal Festival, evidence of just how IWA work parties can help to benefit the wider community.

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