The Waterway Recovery Group and IWA’s Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch supported by the BCN Society, Coombeswood Canal Trust, Dudley Canal Trust and the Canal & River Trust also held a successful clean-up weekend on the Stourbridge Canal (13th/14th April). Over 70 volunteers helped clear nearly four miles of canal – from the bottom of Delph Locks, all the way to the top of Stourbridge Locks, including the Fens Branch on the Saturday, and the 16 Locks at Stourbridge were cleared on the Sunday along with the Stourbridge Town Arm. Approximately 50 tonnes of rubbish were removed from the canal. This year volunteers found some interesting items in the canal including a safe, a huge DIY store trolley, several computers, a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner, tyres of all sorts and sizes …. and of course a few bikes and shopping trolleys.
Still to come… As the weather warms up WRG starts to look towards their summer season of week-long volunteering holidays. On the 22nd-23rd June WRG are running their annual training weekend, on the Lichfield Canal, which allows volunteers across to the canal restoration movement to learn news skills such as excavator and dumper operation, surveying, and bricklaying. If you are interested in training please register for the event via the WRG website. After the training weekend it’s straight into the main set of canal camps. From the 29th June-6th July volunteers will be working on the Lichfield Canal laying concrete blocks and creating new wildlife habitats; and on the Wey & Arun Canal creating a 1km disabled access footpath. We then travel to the Wilts & Berks Canal to complete work on the Steppingstone Lane
Bridge and to the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal (6th-13th July) where volunteers will continue work started in 2012 to preserve and restore the Whitehouse’s Pumping Station using heritage construction skills. It’s then a short journey south to Watford for IWA’s National Waterways Festival on the Grand Union Canal. A Festival Camp (13th-24th July) is completely different from a restoration camp – first of all volunteers help build the site, putting up display stands and fencing. Then when the event opens, volunteers help run it by providing site services, as well as entertaining and educating the public. At the end we dismantle it all. If you want to meet lots of new people this is the camp for you! At the end of July WRG volunteers will be heading back to the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation in Essex (27th July-3rd August) to get involved in reinstating a bank using willow faggots on an eroded section of towpath upstream of Paper Mill Lock. Accommodation for this week is on a barge moored on the tidal estuary which has showers and bunk beds. Moving into August WRG heads north to the Cromford Canal (3rd-10th August and 10th17th August) with volunteers working on a site nestled in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Area, rebuilding around 40 metres of stone walling and reinstating coping stones at the Sawmill’s gauging narrows. Following on from the Cromford Camps, WRG heads to the Chesterfield Canal (17th-24th August and 24th August-31st August). The Chesterfield Canal is one of the most beautiful and varied waterways in England. In 2013 WRG volunteers will continue work started last summer, helping construct the new Staveley Town Lock. They will be involved in activities such as brick and block
ABOVE: Spot the difference - the Chelmer & Blackwater towpath is almost ready for resurfacing by the local council. A good bonﬁre keeps out the chill of a winter’s day in Essex.
| IWA waterways - Summer 2013
WRG at work.indd 42
Published on May 10, 2013