Successful Summer of Canal Camps for WRG15 September 2014
September saw the end of a very productive Canal Camp summer season with over 2500 volunteer days spent restoring the canals of England and Wales. Based on an average of six hours of volunteering per day that is a staggering 15,000 hours of canal restoration by IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) volunteers.
WRG has supported restoration of derelict inland waterways by co-ordinating volunteers and providing expertise and equipment since its formation in 1970. Every summer WRG organises over twenty week long working holidays aimed at giving canal restoration projects a ‘big push’ with extra volunteers, technical support and advice.
Over the summer WRG volunteers visited twelve restoration sites. Volunteers worked on the Cotswold Canals helping with restoration work at Bowbridge Lock near Stroud; they created a nature trail on the Driffield Navigation; and installed a new landing stage on the Basingstoke Canal. Volunteers also spent two weeks on the Chesterfield Canal constructing a concrete wall near Staveley Town Lock as well as digging out Ironville Locks on the Cromford Canal to allow for a restoration survey to be undertaken.
One of the highlights of the summer involved making significant progress towards the restoration of Inglesham Lock (at the eastern end of the Cotswold Canals) with WRG volunteers contributing over 300 volunteer days to the project. Volunteers cleared a large volume of silt and debris from the entrance to lock chamber to allow for new stop planks and a sand bag dam to be installed. The work will allow for a full survey of the chamber to be undertaken by one of IWA’s Honorary Consultant Engineers, once the rest of the lock chamber has been cleared.
Over the summer, WRG also ran working holidays on the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals, Uttoxeter Canal, Pocklington Canal, Grantham Canal, Lancaster Canal, Swansea Canal and the Monmouthshire Canals.
Amber Jenkins, WRG’s new Assistant Volunteers Coordinator said "This is my first summer with WRG and I have met so many enthusiastic volunteers who aim to have fun whilst making a big impact restoring canals. It’s amazing to see how much 18 volunteers can get done in one week … from laying a new towpath to installing stop planks and filling 2000 sand bags!"
Amber Jenkins was not the only member of Head Office Staff to get involved with WRG Canal Camps this summer. A total of five members of staff took part and contributed to the hard work undertaken as part of restoration efforts this year. A round-up of their time on various camps can be read in IWA's Blog.
Key Facts from 2014
- 420 volunteers aged between 18 and 70+ attended a Canal Camp this summer.
- 83 Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students completed their Gold Residential on a WRG Canal Camp.
- 25 volunteers from mainland Europe volunteered on a Canal Camp this summer (14 from France, four from Italy, one from Norway and six from Spain).
- WRG’s red minibuses travelled over 1600 miles across England and Wales
- WRG’s volunteer cooks had a busy summer keeping our army of WRG volunteers fed … making over 2900 evening meals!
Click here to see photos from WRG’s summer of volunteering.