PRESS RELEASE: IWA issues advice on Himalayan Balsam

Issue Date: 18th June 2013

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has produced a leaflet giving information about Himalayan Balsam, which is an invasive non-native species that crowds out other plants.  This is part of the Association’s co-ordinated campaign of increased awareness and work parties with Canal & River Trust to limit the spread the plant, which threatens existing native wildlife along the inland waterways.
The leaflet includes information about how to identify the plant, a step-by-step guide to planning a Himalayan Balsam work party, and information about what walkers and boaters can do to help prevent the plant spreading further.  The leaflet is downloadable from the IWA website,

The leaflet has been produced in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, and details of how to report locations of Himalayan Balsam, or make contact with the volunteering teams in order to organise a work party on CRT waterways, are included in the leaflet.

Himalayan Balsam was introduced to Britain in the mid 19th Century by Victorian gardeners and in recent years has become a problem on many waterways around the country.  It pulls up very easily and is completely non-toxic, making it an ideal task for a volunteer work party. 

The leaflet encourages groups to organise Himalayan Balsam pulling work parties and includes a step-by-step guide on how to organise one.

Several work parties have already been planned around the canal system to clear stretches of this invasive plant which crowds out native plants, on waterways including the Calder & Hebble Navigation, Caldon Canal, Grand Union Canal, Pocklington Canal and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. 

Going on one of these work parties is a great activity for all the family (children must be accompanied and supervised).  Volunteers are advised to wear long trousers and long sleeves (as there may be nettles growing amongst the Balsam) and to wear stout shoes. 

If you know of any work parties already planned, or would like to suggest a location that would benefit from a Himalayan Balsam pulling session, please contact IWA’s Branch Campaign Team: 
Alison Smedley – 01538 385388 –
Stefanie Preston – 01494 783453 –

Himalayan Balsam work parties already planned around the waterways: 

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June – IWA South Wales Branch supporting the Swansea Canal Society – Swansea Canal.  10am to 4pm each day.  Meet at Clydach Heritage Centre, Coed Gwyllim Park, Clydach, Swansea, SA6 5NR.  Contact

Sunday 23rd June – IWA Lichfield Branch - Brindley Bank, Rugeley, Trent & Mersey Canal.  Meet at the bottom of the steps by the aqueduct, accessed along the renovated footpath between Albany Drive and the pumping station, off Wolseley Road, Rugeley, WS15 2HP.  10 am to 12.30 pm.  Work will include other tasks including levelling and gravelling the historic tramway line.  Further information from Margaret Beardsmore on 07581 794111 or email

Thursday 27th June – IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust – Caldon Canal.  10am to 3pm.  Meet at Consall Station.  Nearest parking is at Consall Visitor Centre, Consall Nature Park, Consall Forge, Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire, ST9 0AF. Contact Bob Luscombe on 07710 054848 or email

Saturday 29th June – IWA East Yorkshire Branch and the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society - Pocklington Canal.  Meet at the car park beside the Canal Arm, Melbourne, YO42 4QJ.  Park in the village and walk down the lane beside the Melbourne Arms pub.  Work will commence at 10am and continue until 4pm or earlier if all the Balsam has been picked!  Contact Roger Bromley on 01482 845099 or by email 

Friday 5th July – IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch – Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.  10am to 4pm.  Meet at Falling Sands Bridge, accessed via Lisle Avenue - off Stourport Road, Kidderminster.  Contact David Struckett for further information on 07976 746225 or by email

Thursday 11th July – IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust – Caldon Canal.  10am to 3pm.  Meet at the western portal of Froghall Tunnel, Foxt Road (B5053), Froghall, Staffordshire.  Contact Bob Luscombe on 07710 054848 or email

Wednesday 24th July – IWA Chiltern Branch – Marsworth Locks, Grand Union Canal.  Meet at Lock 44 to clear Himalayan Balsam from the sidepond.  For further information contact John Brice on 07740 733241 or by email

Saturday 27th July – IWA Manchester Branch supporting Canal & River Trust Towpath Taskforce – 10am to 4pm.  Himalayan Balsam pulling, location to be confirmed.  Contact Ian Price or phone 07971 444258.
Saturday 27th July – IWA West Riding Branch – Salterhebble Locks, Calder & Hebble Navigation near Halifax.  10am to 4pm.  Work will include Himalayan Balsam pulling, weeding, clearing vegetation and painting. Park in the car park by Salterhebble Locks, off the A6026 Wakefield Road immediately before its junction with the A629.  For further details contact Elaine Scott, IWA West Riding Branch Chairman on 07980 953880 or email

Thursday 1st August – IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust – Caldon Canal.  10am to 3pm.  Meet at Basford Bridge, Cheddleton to work in both directions.  Contact Bob Luscombe on 07710 054848 or email

Sunday 11th August – IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch and the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust – Caldon Canal.  10am to 3pm.  Meet at Consall Lime Kilns.  Nearest parking is at Consall Visitor Centre, Consall Nature Park, Consall Forge, Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire, ST9 0AF.  Contact Bob Luscombe on 07710 054848 or email


Notes For Editors

About IWA

The Inland Waterways Association is a registered charity, founded in 1946, which advocates the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways for public benefit. We have over 17,000 members including 350 corporate members with a combined membership representing a voice of well over 50,000 people supporting and involved with the inland waterways.

IWA works closely with navigation authorities, national and local authorities, voluntary, private and public sector organisations. We campaign and lobby for support and encourage public participation in the inland waterways. IWA also manages the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation for the public benefit, through its subsidiary Essex Waterways Ltd, having stepped in to prevent its closure in 2005.

IWA actively supports waterway restoration, and through its waterways restoration volunteering organisation, Waterway Recovery Group, organises and subsidises over 20, week‐long waterway restoration working holiday schemes for volunteers of all ages throughout the UK each year, as well as conducting multiple work parties around the country on most weekends. This particularly enables young people to participate in the preservation and restoration of our heritage, and in doing so learn construction and heritage skills.

IWA arranges affordable insurance for over 180 waterway organisations and is able to give engineering and other professional advice. Its members provide the expertise necessary to organise festivals and events to raise public awareness. IWA is organised into 34 local branches covering all geographical areas of the country. Both centrally, and through the branch network, IWA volunteers coordinate activities as diverse as policing planning applications through the waterway corridor, raising money for restoration, and providing education on the value and benefits of their local waterways.

More than 500 miles of canals and navigable rivers have been re‐opened to public use since the Association was founded in 1946. The Association is working to restore a further 500 miles of derelict inland waterways.

Find out more about IWA