IWA Awards Grant of £15,000 to Chesterfield Canal Trust

IWA Awards Grant of £15,000 to Chesterfield Canal Trust

19 December 2014

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant of £15,000 to Chesterfield Canal Trust, to help fund the restoration of narrowboat Python.

The grant has come from the Keith Ayling Bequest. Keith Ayling  was a former long-standing chairman of Chesterfield Canal Trust and the purchase of Python was his last project for the Trust.

Major works are needed to preserve the integrity of the historic narrowboat, owned by Chesterfield Canal Trust, which cannot operate in its current condition. Python is used by the Trust as a publicity vehicle to promote the work of the Trust, the volunteer crew engages with members of the public and boat owners at canalside events, and to help maintain the Chesterfield Canal, volunteers have used the boat to help clear offside vegetation. Further volunteer activities were planned but have been postponed until the necessary works can be carried out.

To fund these works Chesterfield Canal Trust applied for a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014; the Trust also planned to use any money awarded to equip the boat with interpretation materials about its history. Despite support from many, including IWA and Canal & River Trust, the application was unsuccessful and the project stalled, with Python remaining out of service.

However, The Inland Waterways Association considers the Trust’s project to be of significance in engaging the public with the waterways, so has agreed to make a grant from the Keith Ayling Bequest to help fund the work. A total of £15,000 will be given to Chesterfield Canal Trust to fund the essential work on Python.

Gordon Harrower, IWA National Treasurer, said "IWA is pleased to be able to support the restoration of Python, and the Finance Committee believe that this is a fitting use of the Ayling Bequest. Keith was passionate about the Chesterfield Canal, and Python was the last project in which he was involved. This project will help to continue the great work of the Trust and Python, which engages the wider public with and enables everyone to enjoy our waterways."

Robin Stonebridge, Chair of Chesterfield Canal Trust, said "Keith Ayling would be thrilled that Python is being given a new lease of life to promote the waterways he loved, and attract more people to the pleasure of using our waterways. Hundreds of people have taken Python to their hearts over the last few years, and she has been sorely missed at events over the last year. The support from IWA is a tremendous boost to getting her up and running again, and we intend to keep her busy for many years to come. The crew who have spent so much time restoring Python are eager to ensure she is up and running in 2015."

The Trust is currently developing a plan for the restoration and preservation of Python to ensure her long-term future is secured. This will enable Python and Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers to continue to engage with the public and contribute to the maintenance of the Chesterfield Canal. The Trust also hopes to include interpretation of Python’s history and the development of ways to share this with the public in the project.

Photo: Historic Narrowboat Python (photo by Chesterfield Canal Trust)

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