Northampton Arm Adoption - Blog

Date: August 23rd
Location: Lock 1, Lock 10 and Lock 17 
Our volunteers this week were split up into 3 groups, the first group needed to repair some of the newly erected fence alongside Lock 1 that had been damaged by the resident cattle, the second group started painting the new lock gates at Lock 10 and the third finished off the repainting of the old crane near Lock 17.  

...and after:
new crane

What a great job the volunteers have done, again!  Well done all.

Date: June 7th, 8th and 9th
Location: Lock 1, Northampton Arm 
For 3 days this month Santander has sent a group of volunteers to aid us with our work on the Northampton Arm, so we thought we'd best make good use of all the bodies to tackle a big job - repairing 70m of fence alongside Lock 1.
The cows in the neighbouring field had destroyed the original fence so all the old, broken and rotten posts had to be removed.  While the ground was cleared the team levelled the ground and cut the grass before installing the new posts.  By the time the new fence was installed, a touch of paint applied and the grass cut and trimmed the area had been transformed.
A much better welcome for visitors to the Arm.
Picture from before all the hard work....
before the hard work

And after...
after the hard work

A huge thanks to all the volunteers
santander volunteers 2016

Date: May 25th
Location: Northampton Arm, Mile Post 2
Back in December 2014, as part of the Arm adoption, one of our long standing members, Roger O'Dea, offered to carry out a clean and paint of the 4 mileposts that are on the Arm.
What Roger found was no sign of mile post 2 and mile post 3 was almost buried.  In February 2015 we dug out mile post 3 and replaced it at the correct height.
Mile post 2 was a bit more of a challenge though!
Another of our members, Rob Westlake, measured down from mile post 1 and up from mile post 3 to locate an area where mile post 2 should be.  What was quite telling here was the area coincided with some large enabling works that had been carried out by David Wilson Homes for a housing development in about 2011.  The site office was contacted but no further information came to light.
The next thing we tried was a CAT scan by CRT and a scan by the local metal detecting club, both which failed to turn up anything.
Alongside this, another long standing member, Rodney Hardwick, had an exact measurement of mile post 2 being 460ft above the top gate of lock 14 and this was the area that had been searched.
Now we came to the conclusion that mile post 2 was lost and we should source a replacement.
The Branch Committee decided that in conjunction with replacing the mile post, we should incorporate a memorial plaque to Eric Young, who passed away in 2015, and was a long standing branch and committee member.
With a lot of foundries now out of business, CRT attempted to source a replacement with no luck, but Rob Westlake came to the rescue, as he had contacts with the Milepost Society and suggested we try Hargreaves Foundry at Halifax.
We sent them mile post 5 that was never installed and from that they made a patent for mile post 2 and cast the replacement.
Further information has also come from the Milepost Society in the form of a photo and the grid reference of the mile post taken in 2009.  This was even more evidence that the mile post was lost during the enabling works.
This was presented to David Wilson Homes who very generously gave us a donation of £300 towards the replacement.
We have now installed the mile post and hope to have the memorial plaque installed by the end of June/beginning of July and we will then invite Eric's wife to carry out an unveiling.
mile post 2

Date: April 12th
Northampton Arm Bench Unveiling
Thursday 19th April was not only the Queen's birthday, but also the grand unveiling of the Northampton Branch's commemorative bench at Lock 17.
In May 2015 we marked the 200th Anniversary of the Northampton Arm by installing a mosaic on the sanitation building at Gayton Juction. We have 'book-ended' the Arm this year by building a bench and inviting artist David Bowers from Mosaic Madness to return and work his magic again.
As usual thanks go out to all the volunteers that donated their time this week to make sure all the thousands of tiles were put in just the right place.
Special thanks go to Bellway Homes and Canal & River Trust for their support and generosity, and also to Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Penelope Flavell, seen here doing the unveiling.
We even made the local news - Northampton Chronicle & Echo
bench unveiling

Northampton Arm "Heroes"
Members of the Northampton Branch Adoption Group were completely bowled over when local resident Claire Smith presented them with a well known brand of boxed chocolates at a recent task party. Claire lives in one of the new apartments overlooking Lock 17 on the Northampton Arm and wanted to reward the army of volunteers for their hard work. 
Claire said:"I've been watching from my window and have been so impressed by how hard you all work and the amazing results you have achieved, I just had to come and say thank you." Claire told the stunned volunteers; "I think you are all 'heroes' giving up your time for the benefit of the community."
Unfortunately Branch Chairman Bernie Morton was temporarily absent and by the time he returned all the chocolates had gone. What a shame!
At the time, the task party were busy preparing for the installation of a mosaic seat which will be unveiled at Lock 17 on 21st April at 1pm by Northampton Mayor Penelope Flavell and Richard Parry, CEO of The Canal and River Trust. The seat has been designed by the Branch and artist David Bowers; concrete formwork installed with the help of The Canal & River Trust and the project made possible with sponsorship from Bellway Homes, developer of the new apartments overlooking the lock.
lock17 heroes

Date: October to February
Location: Northampto
n Arm

Since our previous report in October each task party has continued with the clearing of lock by-washes on the Northampton Arm.  As of this Sunday (14th Feb) we now only have two left to do thanks to the hard work, and stamina, of the volunteers.
You can see from the photos the amount of work that has gone in and how much better they will be when the Arm reopens at the end of the month following Winter Stoppages.


Date: 25th October 2015
Location: Lock
Sunday started off quite chilly for the 7 volunteers that attended this week, but they soon warmed up once they started work.  Today's task was to clear the Lock 14 by-weir of vegetation so that the water can flow freely from above the lock, down into the next pound.  The  long grass and brambles were strimmed back to start so that access could be gained to the weeds and moss in the by-weir.  After lots of scraping the end result looks great, and will hopefully help keep the pounds in water much easier.  Thanks, as usual, to all the dedicated volunteers that turn up each week.

Date: 27th September 2015
Location: Lock 13
September favoured us with glorious sunshine to finally complete a job that has been postponed twice for various reasons.  The volunteers quickly got to work painting Lock 13, that had had it's gates replaced earlier this year and so were looking decidedly bare!
They did so well that they were also able to do a massive litter pick from Lock 14 all the way back up to Lock 1.  
Well done team, you have every reason to look proud!

Date: 23rd August 2015 
Location: Westbridge Arm
Todays task party centred around ensuring the Westbridge Arm is navigable for the Westbridge Arm Challenge at the Festival of Water.  We managed to get all the way down to the winding hole so the challenge will be on!  Huge thanks to all that attended, and got wet, the Canal & River Trust for supplying a push tug and flat, and the Environment Agency for attending with a truck to remove all that we had dragged out and cut down.  Now that's teamwork!

Date: 20th August 2015
Location: Town Lock island & Northampton Waterfront
We returned to the lock island to continue the preparation work for the Festival of Water, overhanging trees were trimmed to allow boats to moor easily, and bushes were tidied so we will have as much room on the island as possible for the visitors.
At the last task party, we'd had to leave a trolley in the river as a boat was moored right on top of it, so we thought we'd just pop down to the waterfront and remove it.  Whilst there we were told by a fisherman that he kept catching his hook on something on the riverbed so we threw the grappling hooks back in only to find another shopping trolley!
We kept going, just in case we'd missed anything else, and ended up pulling out a total of 9 trolleys, 7 pushbikes and other various detritus!

Date: 11th August 2015
Location: Lock 17 & Town Lock
No pics I'm afraid, but we had 17 volunteers turn up for our task party at Lock 17!!! How great is that?
This meant that as well as doing the work planned, which involved cutting the grass and nettles, clearing overhanging branches, removing litter and weed from the canal, litter picking and block paving scraping, we were able to split the work and take a group down to Town Lock in Northampton. Work there included litter picking, grass cutting, vegetation clearance and planning where the marquees will go for the festival.
A massive 84 volunteer hours were clocked in one day, making a total of over 2000 hours since we started in July 2013.
Thanks to all the volunteers that have made this possible.

Date: 6th August 2015
Location: Northampton Riverside 
This weeks task party was the massive task of removing all the overgrown vegetation along the waterfront in Northampton to clear the way for the boats that have booked in to moor along the riverside for the Festival of Water.  At one point there were a dozen volunteers with shears, saws, strimmers, scrapers and brooms to trim overhanging branches, cut back vast bushes of weeds that were taking over the paths, cleaning the weeds off the block paving and dragging trollies out of the river, and all that had to be swept and cleared up before the end of the day.
As usual, we cannot thank our volunteers enough for all the hard work that they do to help us achieve our goals, but when they turn up to the Festival of Water I hope we can raise a glass in celebration of the good work done.
Thanks for the rubbish collection this week goes to the local council, who turned up in a truck large enough to take the detritus.
Special thanks must also go to the lady in a nearby house for thanking us for doing such a good job and offering us all a cuppa.  Although we declined purely down to shear numbers, the gesture was hugely appreciated.

Date: 14th July 2015
Location: Locks 10 &
Due to the fuel spill at Gayton Junction earlier in June, the lock painting got put on hold.  Now things are 'back to normal' we resumed work where we left off.
Lock 10 was finished, and Lock 11 was completed as well as the bollards, when the grass had been cleared from around the bases!  Well done again team, you make us all proud!

Date: 28th June 2015
Location: Lock
Sunday's task party spilled over into Monday this week as the wet weather prevented all the work being carried out in a day, but what an enormous amount of work was achieved!
The ongoing summer job of grass cutting, vegetation clearance, moss scraping and nettle clearance was tackled head on with determination, and the local supermarkets must have had a shortage of trollies judging by the amount that was pulled out of the canal, which were also joined by a mattress, a wheelie bin and a bath!
A huge thanks goes out to the volunteers that helped with this massive haul this week, and to CRT for last minute rubbish collection.

Date: 16th June 2015
Location: Locks 16 &
An extra task party was arranged this week for the 4 volunteers from Santander Milton Keynes office. They had such a good time, out of the office, last time they wanted to help some more.  Any excuse to get out in the sunshine!
tp160615-1Along with another 5 of our regular volunteers, we managed to repaint both Locks 16 and 17.  Finally got rid of that graffitti, and I'm sure that the boaters appreciated the lock being ready and manned!
tp160615-2Huge thanks goes out, as usual, to all involved.

Date: 9th June 2015
Location: Lock 15
This weeks task party took some organising. First of all, we didn't know if we'd be allowed to work due to the pollution incident at Gayton on Saturday (see News)
We were given the all clear on Tuesday morning, which gave us an added problem of informing the volunteers where we would be. Despite the problems, 8 volunteers turned up at Lock 15 on a sunny/cloudy/warm/chilly/windy day.
As the canal was still shut, there was no boat traffic so we were able to repaint all 3 gates as well as find and clear the by-wash (which we thought was totally overgrown but it turned out to be a concrete tunnel and just overgrown at the ends)
Special thanks to the few that stayed the extra hour to get the job finished.

Date: 31st May 2015
Location: Lock
The area around Lock 17 needed a lot more work than one task party could manage, so this week we returned to finish the grass cutting and nettle clearance.  Ten volunteers made light work of what remained and you have to admit, the lock landing downstream looks a lot more inviting to boaters.

Date: 12th May 2015
Location: Lock
This week we returned to Lock 17 to tackle the regrowth of the nettles creeping down to the lock landing and the grass around the lock.  12 volunteers joined us in getting stung whilst finding litter among the nettles, but the area soon started to look more welcome to boaters.
You can see in the photo, the new Strong Stream Advice (SSA) sign has now been installed by the EA to inform boaters of the state of the river before leaving the lock.

Date: 26th April 2015
Location: Gayton
Work continued this week at Gayton Junction, all preparation for the 200th Anniversary celebrations coming up on the 2nd May.
More weeds were removed from around the whole sanitation station area, and painting was finished on the walls and rails along the side of the road heading up to Bridge 2.
All set now, just keep fingers crossed that the rain holds off until Saturday night!


Date: 7th April 2015
Location: Gayton Junction & Lock
We had been asked by CRT if we could assist with some general maintenance of the lock by-wash weirs, this entailed clearing away the overgrown vegetation, and any other rubbish that had accumulated, to ensure the water had a 'free run'.  A small group of volunteers started at Lock 1 and will continue working their way down the flight.
The rest of the group concentrated on sprucing up the Sanitation Station area at Gayton Junction. With the weeds removed from the area and paintwork on the building touched up, it is now ready for the new cruising season.

Date: 25th March
Location: A45 Bridge 
4 volunteers turned up for an extra task party this week, litter picking around the A45 bridge upstream of Lock 15, and our new 'volunteer' banner had it's first outing.


Date: 22rd March 2015
 Lock 1
With the Spring sun shining, the work was finished in no time at this weeks task party.  10 volunteers joined us at the top of the arm and the paintbrushes were out again to refresh the 'garage' at Lock 1 and paint the new top gate on Lock 2.
Litter was collected from along the towpath as well as the 'offside' of Lock 2.
task party 220315

Date: 22nd February 2015
Location: Lock 16-17
A group of 14 volunteers turned up to litter pick the offside area between Lock 17 and the B & Q Bridge 16. The weather forecast for the day was not good, with strong winds and rain due to arrive in Northampton early afternoon.
We started at the B & Q end and worked back to the Lock and collected over 40 bags of rubbish plus numerous other items that would not go in bags. This included bike frames, a swivel chair, picnic table, bits of a boat toilet and scrap metal. A considerable amount of the rubbish had come off abandoned boats that were on the River Nene.
We were about half an hour away from finishing when the rain started so it was a quick tidy up and back to the cars after another satisfying Task Party.

Date: 12th & 20th February 2015

Location: Whole Length
One of the Branch’s tasks this winter was to carry out a survey and refurbishment of the 4 Mile Posts that mark the distance from Gayton Junction to the River Nene at Far Cotton, Northampton.
This challenge was taken up by the two Rogers, Roger O’Dea and Roger Hasdell. They found Mile Posts 1 and 4 ok and they only require painting, Mile Post 2 was missing and Mile Post 3 was half buried where the towpath had been back filled over the years.
The Branch then decided to run an extra Task Party on Thursday 12th February with the aim of excavating Mile Post 3 and lifting it up to the correct height.
With 8 volunteers in attendance who dug down about 3 feet and broke out about 10 inches of rubble and possibly a lime mix to try to free the post using hand tools. After 4 hours everyone had run out of time and energy, so it was decided to try again on Friday 20th February.
The same 8 volunteers turned out again and this time Wayne Moore from CRT brought with him a generator and electric jack hammer. Well, the remaining rubble and lime mix was no match for this and by midday the Post was out.
After a celebration cup of coffee for everyone, all that remained to do was to back fill and compact the hole, replace the Mile Post at the correct height, set it in some Postcrete, complete the backfill and paint it black.WorkP20-2-15

Date: 25th January 2015
Location: Lock 14 & 17 
A group of eight volunteers turned out on Sunday (25th) carry on their good work tidying up the canal at Far Cotton.

Sunday proved to be a reasonable winter’s day, quite warm and sunny. Perfect for the jobs in hand - tidying up the lock island by Lock 17 and vegetation removal on the block paved towpath between Lock 17 and the B&Q footbridge, done by the volunteers using an industrial type floor scraper, which is very hard work. Finally, rubbish clearance at Bridge 14 near Pineham which resulted in rich pickings such as 9 shopping trollies, 2 bicycles and a  mattress - all removed from the canal using grappling irons. It is this sort of rubbish that can damage boats using the canal. Overall, a very satisfying and tiring day.WorkP25-01-15

Date: 6th January 2015
Location: Lock 17
Our first task party of the new year, and what a great turnout! Thanks everyone.
Work continued at Lock 17 where Bellway Homes have begun construction work. One of the completed tasks was vegetation clearance so the EA sign indicating Strong Stream Advice is now visible to boats before they exit Lock 17 onto the river.
The volunteer team takes time off to proudly display their Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award (shield and certificate) given by the Canal & River Trust SE.060115lock17workparty

 Everyone went home tired and well satisfied.

Task Parties

Northampton Branch adopted the over 4 mile long Northampton Arm in 2013, arguably one of the longest stretches of canal to be adopted by a volunteer group. Task parties are held regularly on Tuesdays and Sundays at different locations on the Arm. Work includes vegetation clearance, weeding, litter picking and painting at locks.
All are welcome. See Diary Page for date of next Task Party.

Branch receives CRT Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award 2014


In December 2014 the Branch was presented with a Volunteer Organisation Recognition Award by the Canal & River Trust SE. The award, a shield containing the names of previous winners, was presented to Geoff Wood and Mick Butler, our Task Party Co-ordinators at the Canal Museum, Stoke Bruerne on Saturday 13th December.
Chairman Bernard Morton said: "We are delighted that the Canal & River Trust have chosen to recognise the hard work of our volunteers with an award. Since we adopted the Northampton Arm over a year ago a great deal has been achieved. We are very grateful to the Trust for the support they have given our group, resulting in a very visible transformation.”
The award will be held by the Branch for a year before being awarded to next years winner.