Operation Starburst on the Canals of Manchester

Issue date: 3rd August 2013

IWA Manchester Branch, working in partnership with Canal & River Trust and supported by Waterway Recovery Group, is planning another weekend canal clean up event in the Manchester area over the weekend of 19th and 20th October 2013.
The event will follow on from last year’s event, which commemorated the 40th anniversary of ASHTAC.
This year, the event is to be branded 'Operation Starburst', with a starburst effect created as volunteers work in five different locations based on a central meeting point.
Ian Price, chairman of IWA Manchester Branch said “The name, Operation Starburst, was chosen to reflect the concept of working on different canals around a central meeting point, as well as continuing the theme from the even larger scale events that took place over forty years ago.   Operation Ashton took place in 1968, and this was followed by Ashton Attack (ASHTAC for short)  in 1972 which saw 1,000 people working on the canals in this area.  Those events contributed to the reopening of the Cheshire Ring in 1974.”
Steve O’Sullivan, Volunteer Co-ordinator for Canal & River Trust said “The meeting point will be Portland Basin at Dukinfield Junction, the junction of the Lower Peak Forest and the Ashton Canals, as this provides an ideal meeting point for volunteers, who will be ferried out from there to five different locations nearby.  No work will need to be carried out in this area following the successful clean up last October by IWA and CRT volunteers, as well as dredging works being carried out this summer by CRT.”
These days, whilst inland waterways are highly valued by communities for leisure and for wildlife, in some areas they are subjected to fly-tipping and vandalism. Waterway volunteers coordinated by IWA have become renowned for canal clean ups around the Birmingham Canal Navigation each year and elsewhere.  This Manchester annual event builds on this and gives volunteers a chance to take part in a canal clean up in the north of the country.  The improvements, both to navigation and the overall appearance of the canal and towpath, will benefit all users of Manchester’s waterways.
The five proposed locations, where rubbish and debris will be pulled out of the canal and put into workboats, are:  Hyde (on the Lower Peak Forest Canal), Stalybridge (on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal), Ashton Locks on the Ashton Canal, and Newton Heath and Failsworth on the Rochdale Canal.  Volunteers are encouraged to go to Portland Basin first for signing in and a health and safety briefing, before being ferried in minibuses to one of the locations.
Work, which will involve pulling rubbish and debris out of the canal with grappling hooks, as well as litter picking for those who prefer a lighter task, will take place between 10am to 4pm on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October.  Volunteers are advised to wear stout footwear and bring waterproofs in case of rain.
For volunteers from further afield wishing to make a weekend of it, basic accommodation will be available and can be booked via the WRG website.
Further details are available from Alison Smedley, IWA Branch Campaign Officer, by email  alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk or phone 01538 385388/07779 090915.