Issue date: 17th July 2013
The first birthday of Canal & River Trust on 2nd July was an auspicious date for the first of IWA Northampton Branch’s work parties on the 4¾ mile stretch of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal representing probably the largest canal Adoption in the country. As such, the work party captured the attention of the media with BBC Radio Northampton and an ITV Anglia News team turning out to interview volunteers and film them in action at Lock 17 at the bottom of the Arm.
Lock 17, in the heart of Northampton at the gateway to the River Nene, had been chosen for the first assault because it was arguably the area most in need of some attention. It is also the entry point to the canal system from the river and first impressions count. Due to delays with a planned housing development with proposals to landscape the area around the recently restored and re-installed crane which replaces an earlier shelved pub development, the area was looking distinctly overgrown. In a very short period of time volunteers were able to complete a number of tasks to tidy up the lock area including litter picking, rubbish and vegetation clearance, weeding, applying paint to the lock gates and handrails, and painting bollards and the lock ladder landing. As a result the immediate area has been transformed looking brighter, smarter and distinctly tidier.
Interviews with Canal & River Trust Volunteer Team Leader Miriam Tedder and IWA Northampton’s Canal Adoption Officer David Higgins were broadcast live on BBC Radio Northampton’s Breakfast Show and as a result some listeners answered appeals to get involved and duly arrived at the Lock offering to volunteer. Asked why volunteers want to give their time for free to help care for our historic canals, David Higgins said: “It’s a job that needs doing and we all feel really quite passionate about the canals. If we can help, we want to.”
Dates for more task parties on the Northampton Arm will be announced shortly. All are welcome, not just IWA members. Canal & River Trust and IWA Northampton Branch will be working closely with local companies, residents associations, community and youth groups to encourage participation.