PRESS RELEASE: New Mosaic Nature Trail Opens on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal

Issue date: 18th April 2018

A new canal mosaic nature trail, featuring 34 mosaic designs, will be officially opened on Saturday 21st April 2018.   Mrs Joan Kirkbride, Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, will open the trail at midday at Lock 10 on the Rothersthorpe Flight, one of 17 locks on the 4 ¾ mile length of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal.   Each lock location has two mosaic panels, one forming part of the nature trail, the other recording an aspect of canal life.

This wonderful new feature is made possible by the work of volunteers from the Northampton Branch of The Inland Waterways Association, pupils from two Northampton primary schools – Briar Hill and Delapre, and mosaic expert David Bowers.  

Volunteers, local residents and anyone interested in canal art, wildlife and the improvement of the canal environment is invited to come along and attend the official opening.  Please use postcode NN7 3JG and follow event signage to the parking area.  

Funding for the mosaic nature trail and mural project was made possible by a legacy from John Faulkner  – a long-standing and active supporter of The Inland Waterways Association who died two years ago.  His legacy is also helping other local waterway projects, including the building of a new footbridge with full navigable height over the River Nene at Thrapston and restoration work on the Buckingham Canal at Cosgrove by the Buckingham Canal Society.




For further information please contact Sandie Morton, IWA Northampton Branch, The Inland Waterways Association, by emailing or phoning 01604 858294 or mobile 07917 163860  


When - Saturday 21st April at midday
Where - Lock 10, one of 13 locks on the Rothersthorpe Flight of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal.  Postcode NN7 3JG and follow signage.  
Who - Mrs Joan Kirkbride, Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, will officially inaugurate the new mosaic nature trail
The completion of the mosaic nature trail represents the culmination of three years of dedicated activities marking the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm in 1815.  These activities have been led by the Northampton Branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) with the full support of the Canal and River Trust (CRT).  The trail was made possible by a legacy left by John Faulkner to IWA and began at a ceremony in May 2015 at Canal & River Trusts’ Gayton Depot when their Chief Executive Richard Parry unveiled a plaque and mosaic mural.  This was followed a year later by the inauguration of a mosaic decorated seat alongside Lock 17 at Far Cotton where the canal joins the River Nene.  On that day, the honours were carried out by the then Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Penny Flavell.  But IWA Northampton Branch Secretary Sandie Morton then visualised a mosaic nature trail leading from lock to lock, thus linking the two ends of the Arm in a more tangible and visible manner.  The first installation of this trail was ceremoniously completed last year when Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer got his hands dirty whilst cementing in the final piece of the mosaic panel at Lock 17.  

As well as IWA volunteers, the trail project has involved two Northampton primary schools, Briar Hill and Delapre, whose pupils designed and created the mosaic panels under the professional guidance of David Bowers of Mosaic Madness.  There is also going to be a nature trail Challenge, largely for children.

The laying of the trail has been part of IWA Northampton’s “adoption” of the Arm under the auspices of CRT’s nationwide campaign to encourage inland waterways enthusiasts, as well as local communities, to help maintain and promote canals and rivers and their environment through volunteering.  The Northampton Arm adoption was one of the first in 2013 and is now recognised as being among the most ambitious and successful adoption schemes in England.  As well as assisting in the general maintenance of the Arm, the adoption group volunteers at their twice monthly task parties undertake litter picking (an on-going activity!) and have also planted at least 3000 bulbs, mostly daffodils, and introduced planters.  Later this year colourful murals depicting local history will be appearing under the M1 bridge arches where the motorway spans the canal.


The Inland Waterways Association is the membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers.  IWA is a national organisation with a network of volunteers and branches who deploy their expertise and knowledge to work constructively with navigation authorities, government and other organisations.  The Association also provides practical and technical support to restoration projects through its expert Waterway Recovery Group.